(Tucson, AZ) There are impressive trends happening in child and family welfare! For the past year, Casa de los Niños has seen decreasing numbers of children in its crisis shelter. Arizona is catching up with the rest of the country, and, after almost 10 years of escalating child removals, the number of children in out‐of‐home care is going down. In just the past year that number has significantly decreased from 19,044 in March 2016 to 16,800 in March 2017, according to Department of Child Safety reports.
Over the past year, the number of children in the Casa de los Niños shelter has decreased significantly from previous years of well over 30 children per month.
“Due to the generosity and commitment from the Tucson community, the impact of our programs now means we are able to help children without having to place them in a crisis shelter!
We are serving more children and families outside the shelter, and will now use that space on campus even more effectively to help families,” said Casa de los Niños CEO, Susie Huhn, “As the numbers we serve continues to grow, we continue to rely on critical support from this community to help kids and families in need.”
Coinciding with this trend, Casa de los Niños has been able to focus on improving its foster care home network, and better support kinship families who take in their grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Casa de los Niños Board President, Bill Estes, says, “Our in‐home program work is expanding and showing good results. We are working with whole families, keeping children at home, and preventing the trauma they experience when they are pulled out of their homes – trauma that lasts a lifetime.”
At the same time, the Arizona Department of Child Safety has demonstrated a renewed commitment to ensure that, whenever possible, kids are placed in a kinship or foster family home, rather than shelters or group homes.
“Arizona has fortunately moved from the worst ranked state in America for foster care growth to the best, but that doesn’t mean our work protecting children and strengthening families is done,” said DCS Director Greg McKay. “Casa de los Ninos has been an instrumental partner in meeting the extreme demands of the past, my compliments to them for recognizing the need to contract and pivot. It is to all Arizonans’ benefit that we are now shifting our focus to long‐term solutions; like safe and stable family environments for children.”
The work of Casa de los Niños has always focused on child well‐being and family stability. But, for many years the goal was to provide a “safety net” for children, without a comprehensive effort to help the whole family, and provide parents with skills and access to resources so the child had a safe, healthy place to return home. Over the last 15 years, Casa de los Niños has worked with laser focus to create in‐home programs that help families right where they live…providing parents with resources and skills so they can keep children safe and healthy. They are also leading in the work to provide mental and behavioral health services for kids and young adults.
Huhn says, “The focus of Casa de los Niños has always been – what is in the best interest of children? A tremendous opportunity exists now for us to take a step back and assess how we can best utilize the shelter space to better to serve the children and families in our community. Now that more children are staying with families, we need to support these families who are working so hard to stay together.”
Contact: Dan Gregory
Community Relations Coordinator
624‐5600 or 429‐0638 or firstname.lastname@example.org