Category: About our agency

Astonishing Acts of 2017

Arizona Faith and Families is a family operated agency.  It is one of the unique characteristics that sets us apart and allows us to have rich and intimate relationships with each of our foster families and the children placed in their home.  We are also a Christian agency, centering our practices on faith in God, the power of prayer, and the redemptive work of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As we prepare to begin a new year, we wanted to step back and praise God for some of the amazing ways He has worked through our foster families in 2017.  We are humbled by the incredible people we work with and thank all of you for stepping out in faith to serve Arizona’s foster children.

In 2017, our foster families showed that they not only love the children in their home, but the people connected to them.  Do you know how many of you emailed and asked to bring the children’s biological family to our agency’s Christmas party?  I promise you that is not standard!  We are humbled.  You never cease to amaze us with your generosity and fearlessness.  You supervise visits when parent aid contracts expire and the children are set to go weeks without contact with their loved ones.  You coordinate with other foster families to ensure the children see siblings they are separated from and even drive across the county to do so!  You model how to be a good parent.  This year, you attended doctor appointments and parent-teacher conferences with the children’s biological parents, ensuring they knew what kind of questions to ask and how to advocate for each child’s needs.  You even co-hosted birthday parties!  We know you were nervous at first, but did that hold you back?  No.  You are not a group of people ruled by fear but by courage and grace.  Thank you.  And did you stop there?  No. So many of you kept going further.  Whether it was having the single mom over to take her children trick or treating or inviting the family with nowhere to go over for Thanksgiving, you continually assessed each situation and found ways to show love and support.  Your love is relentless and it is a testimony to the true love of Jesus Christ.  Thank you for every awkward encounter, difficult conversation, and uncomfortable situation you overcame to ensure the children in your home were loved, supported, and connected to the important people in their lives.   We are so thankful for you.

In 2017, our foster parents persevered.  Twice a year, agencies are required to report on the number of disruptions in their foster homes.  Do you know how many reports we submitted this year?  One.  Just one.  I promise you, this too is not standard!  While we do take pride in the training and support we provide, we know ultimately the decision to keep going lies with you.  It is through trauma that the children placed in your home have come to live with you.  Children need a place to heal.  To bear the ugliness of their trauma in a home that will not judge them for it, but lead them through it.  IT – IS – HARD.  But you do it.  Every day you step up to the plate and do it.  Some of you have had a really rough 2017.  Thank you for persevering.

In 2017, our foster parents exchanged the ordinary for the extraordinary.  There are the empty nesters who gave up quietness and freedom to continue raising children.  From newborns to teens this group does it all!  And can we all just give a huge round of applause to our single parents?  You never cease to amaze us.  And our adoptive parents, thank you!  Over a dozen children found permanency through adoption into your homes and many more of you are set to finalize in 2018.  Such a beautiful picture of redemption and love. 

2017 astonished us.  To quote the apostle Paul “I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3-6

Want to be a part of this amazing journey?  Attend an orientation today and find out if 2018 is your year to start the foster care or adoption journey: Orientation Events

Home Inspection Fails: The Top 10

The Top Ten

A portion of the process to become a foster parent includes an inspection of your home by the state of Arizona.  This can feel intimidating but is intended to make sure that licensed homes are safe environments for children in care.  The state provides each family with a comprehensive list of inspection standards and relies on agencies to help get you prepared.  Below are the top 10 reasons families fail to pass an inspection the first time through, as provided by the state of Arizona:

  • Smoke detectors are not installed in each bedroom
  • Dogs over six months of age are not current on rabies vaccines
  • A record keeping tool is not available to document review of emergency evacuation plans with foster children
  • Smoke detectors are not installed in each living area
  • Electrical panels and outlets are in poor repair
  • A written emergency evacuation plan is not available and posted on each floor
  • Emergency phone numbers are not posted in a prominent place
  • Medication is not in locked storage
  • Highly toxic substances are not in locked storage

And the current number 1….

  • Lack of proper first aid supplies

We want all families to feel confident as they go through their inspection and do our best to ensure that each family passes an inspection their first time through!  To help prepare, please take a look at the most current inspection book closely and begin the process of preparing your home.  You can also review home inspections 101 to get an idea of the inspection process.

Home Inspections 101

During the licensing process, the Office of Licensing and Regulation (OLR) will conduct a life safety inspection in your home. This is to ensure that your home is in compliance with the safety requirements for licensed foster parents. We know this can be a stressful time for families, but no need to worry we have you covered! Simply, look over this document to learn about some of the major safety concerns addressed during the inspection.

*This is a brief overview of the most commonly asked about safety requirements. A full detailed list of safety requirements for foster parents will be given to you during the licensing process by your agency. Your licensing agency will also do a walk through with you to help you prepare for the States inspection.

Medication and Toxins    

(Many families attach magnet locks to existing cabinets for the locking of medication and toxins.  You can view a sample here)

  • Medication must be maintained in a securely fashioned and locked storage, unless:
    • The foster child may access their medication specified in their case/service plan
    • The medication must be readily and immediately accessible i.e. asthma inhaler or epi-pen
  • Refrigerated Medication
    • Must be safeguarded in a locked box within the fridge. (Many families use a tackle box with a lock)
  • Highly toxic substances are in locked storage (substances that can cause serious bodily harm or death if improperly used)

Fire arms

  • Fire arms and weapons must be unloaded, trigger locked and locked in a storage container of unbreakable material
  • Ammunition must be locked in a separate storage from the firearm
  • Other than some provisions for law enforcement officers, no foster parent is permitted to carry a weapon around or near a foster child. This includes individuals with a concealed weapon permit

Safety

  • 2A 10BC fire extinguisher is to be stored near the kitchen. If you have a multilevel house, you must have a fire extinguisher on all levels
  • Families are required to post and review emergency evacuation plans with foster children and maintain a record showing when it was reviewed
  • First Aid supplies must be maintained and available
  • Emergency phone numbers are to be posted in a prominent location (Poison control, 911, non-emergency local police, Family emergency contact, and crisis hotline)
  • Smoke detectors are to be installed in each living area and bedroom
  • If necessary, a functioning carbon-monoxide detector is to be properly installed on each level of the home

Animals

  • No animals on the premises should pose a threat due to behavior/venom/disease
  • All dogs over 6 months of age need to have documented proof of current rabies vaccinations

Pool Safety and Spa Safety

  • If you have a pool and intend to take in children younger than 6 years old, you must:
    • Have a pool fence that is at least 5 ft. high
    • Keep the pool gate locked, except when in use and there is an adult in the pool enclosure to supervise
    • Surround the pool with an enclosure (if your house acts as part of that enclosure you will need to read the Pool Safety section to see how to be in compliance)
    • Have a shepherd’s crook and a ring buoy
  • Hot Tubs and spas must have safety covers that are locked when not in use
    • In addition, a hot tub/spa is required to be fenced in compliance with R21-8-113.B for homes providing care to a child of six years of age or less
    • If drained, fenced or unfenced, you must keep the spa:
      • Disconnected from all power sources
      • Disconnected from water source supply
      • Covered at all times

Sleeping Arrangements

  • Each child in your home needs their own bed.  Futons, pull out couches, and trundle beds do not constitute a bed
  • Children need to be provided with a bedroom but they can share a bedroom with other children.  Lofts, or rooms without windows, walls, and a door, do not count as bedrooms
  • The state does not allow more than 8 total children, or more than 5 foster children, to reside in a licensed foster home.  There are some provisions available for sibling groups
  • Children over the age of 6 must sleep in bedrooms with children of the same gender

For a complete list of the state’s life safety inspection guidelines please click here

Steps to Becoming a Foster Parent

This is the first entry in a 6-part series on foster parenting.  To view a list of all the videos and blogs available in this series, please click here.

Step 1: Review the Requirements for becoming a foster parent

Minimum requirements to become a foster parent through Arizona Faith and Families:

  • At least 21 years of age
  • Legal U.S. and Arizona resident
  • You may live in an apartment, rented home or home you own
  • Must pass a fingerprint-based criminal history records check
  • Must be in good mental and physical health
  • Must be in agreement with our statement of faith listed here
  • Must be a member or regular attender of a local Christian church

Step 2: Attend an Orientation

Orientation is a required step in the foster care licensing process, it is a great place to ask any questions you may have.

During orientation you will learn:

  • More about the children in care
  • The specific requirements to become a foster or adoptive parent
  • The roles and responsibilities of a foster/adoptive parent
  • The process to become a foster/adoptive parent
  • The support you will receive when you become a foster/adoptive parent

Orientation is available online and can be viewed HERE.

Step 3: Select a Licensing Agency

After you attend Orientation you will have a list of the agencies to look through. It is important to pick an agency that is a good fit for your family. You will spend a lot of time with your licensing agency and they will spend time getting to know your family. You want to choose an agency that you feel comfortable working with.

Your licensing worker will help you understand the role of foster parents, submit the needed documents for your license, write your home study and help you with your home safety evaluation. They will assist you not only in the licensing process, but once you are licensed, they will continue to work with you and conduct monthly visits.

At Arizona Faith and Families, we seek to recruit foster and adoptive parents from within the Christian church, to train and license them within a biblical world view, and to equip them to serve their Savior, home, church, and community.  Arizona Faith and Families is committed to a foundation of prayer and biblical training throughout the licensing process.

Step 4: Attend Training

Training will provide you with the tools you will need to parent children who have been neglected and abused. Even if you have previous parenting experience, this training is important because parenting foster children who have been abused and neglected is not the same as parenting children whom you have given birth to. Training also provides you with all the information you need to decide if now is the right time for your family to become licensed for foster care or certified to adopt.

You will spend a total of 30 hours in training, and if married, you and your spouse must attend the same training.  For a list of our upcoming training sessions please click here.

Step 5: Family Home Study and Home Safety Evaluation

Your licensing worker will visit your home and spend time with you and your family collecting information for what is called a “home study”. The purpose of the home study is to determine your ability to serve as a foster parent and your willingness to comply with foster care requirements.  Additionally, the agency will request a state inspection of your home.  You can find out basic home inspection information here.

During the home study process, your licensing worker will:

  • Interview you and all the members of your household
  • Ensure that you are physically, mentally and emotionally capable of caring for children
  • Obtain and verify at least five personal references
  • Verify your financial condition
  • Verify that your apartment or house is a safe environment for children
  • Verify that you have passed fingerprint clearance, criminal history, and DCS records checks

Step 6: Placement

Once you are a licensed foster parent, your agency will work with you and DCS to place a child in your home.

You will be licensed to take up to two children your first year (subject to change only if accommodating a sibling group).

After placement, your agency will work closely with your family to help you adjust to life as a foster parent.  This exciting and rewarding process takes approximately 3-6 months to complete.

Next part

Click here to view the next part of this series which will explore the topic of saying goodbye to our foster children and why we decide to foster.

This blog entry is part of a 6-part series on foster parenting.  To view a list of all the videos and blogs available in this series, please click here.

Preparing Your Home

This is the third entry in a 6-part series on foster parenting.  To view a list of all the videos and blogs available in this series, please click here.


During the licensing process, the Office of Licensing and Regulation (OLR) will conduct a life safety inspection in your home. This is to ensure that your home is in compliance with the safety requirements for licensed foster parents. We know this can be a stressful time for families, but no need to worry we have you covered! Simply, look over this document to learn about some of the major safety concerns addressed during the inspection.

*This is a brief overview of the most commonly asked about safety requirements. A full detailed list of safety requirements for foster parents will be given to you during the licensing process by your agency. Your licensing agency will also do a walk through with you to help you prepare for the States inspection.

Medication and Toxins    

(Many families attach magnet locks to existing cabinets for the locking of medication and toxins.  You can view a sample here)

  • Medication must be maintained in a securely fashioned and locked storage, unless:
    • The foster child may access their medication specified in their case/service plan
    • The medication must be readily and immediately accessible i.e. asthma inhaler or epi-pen
  • Refrigerated Medication
    • Must be safeguarded in a locked box within the fridge. (Many families use a tackle box with a lock)
  • Highly toxic substances are in locked storage (substances that can cause serious bodily harm or death if improperly used)

Fire arms

  • Fire arms must be unloaded, trigger locked and locked in a storage container of unbreakable material
  • Ammunition must be locked in a separate storage from the firearm
  • Other than some provisions for law enforcement officers, no foster parent is permitted to carry a weapon around or near a foster child. This includes individuals with a concealed weapon permit

Fire Safety

  • 2A 10BC fire extinguisher is to be stored near the kitchen. If you have a multilevel house, you must have a fire extinguisher on all levels
  • Families are required to post and review emergency evacuation plans with foster children and maintain a record showing when it was reviewed
  • Emergency phone numbers are to be posted in a prominent location (Poison control, 911, non-emergency local police, Family emergency contact, and crisis hotline)
  • Smoke detectors are to be installed in each living area and bedroom
  • If necessary, a functioning carbon-monoxide detector is to be properly installed on each level of the home

Animals

  • No animals on the premises should pose a threat due to behavior/venom/disease
  • All dogs over 6 months of age need to have documented proof of current rabies vaccinations

Pool Safety and Spa Safety

  • If you have a pool and intend to take in children younger than 6 years old, you must:
    • Have a pool fence that is at least 5 ft. high
    • Keep the pool gate locked, except when in use and there is an adult in the pool enclosure to supervise
    • Surround the pool with an enclosure (if your house acts as part of that enclosure you will need to read the Pool Safety section to see how to be in compliance)
    • Have a shepherd’s crook and a ring buoy
  • Hot Tubs and spas must have safety covers that are locked when not in use
    • In addition, a hot tub/spa is required to be fenced in compliance with R21-8-113.B for homes providing care to a child of six years of age or less
    • If drained, fenced or unfenced, you must keep the spa:
      • Disconnected from all power sources
      • Disconnected from water source supply
      • Covered at all times

Sleeping Arrangements

  • Each child in your home needs their own bed.  Futons, pull out couches, and trundle beds do not constitute a bed
  • Children need to be provided with a bedroom but they can share a bedroom with other children.  Lofts, or rooms without windows, walls, and a door, do not count as bedrooms
  • The state does not allow more than 8 total children, or more than 5 foster children, to reside in a licensed foster home.  There are some provisions available for sibling groups
  • Children over the age of 6 must sleep in bedrooms with children of the same gender

For a complete list of the state’s life safety inspection guidelines please click here

Next part

Click here to view the next part of this series which explores the ministry opportunities of foster care.

This blog entry is part of a 6-part series on foster parenting.  To view a list of all the videos and blogs available in this series, please click here.

Orientation

Interested in becoming a foster parent now, or a year from now?  Orientation is the first step!  Arizona Faith and Families collaborates with the Kids Consortium to host these orientations.  Orientations happen throughout the valley on a regular basis, the schedule is located here.

The state of Arizona requires all potential applicants to first attend these free and informative meetings before beginning the licensing process.  During orientation you will learn the steps and requirements to adopt or foster through the state of Arizona. These orientations are open to the public and a list of all Arizona licensing agencies will also be provided.

Interested in hosting an orientation at your church or for a special group?  Contact us today to schedule an orientation personalized to your location and schedule needs.

What is a biblical model for approaching foster care?

When Arizona Faith and Families was founded, the following slogan was chosen: “A biblical model for foster care and adoption.”

So what does this biblical foundation look like?

Highlighted below are four key points:

  1. The Bible is the ultimate source of truth for foster/adoptive parents. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16, NASB).  Scripture is what equips us for the good work that God has called us to do, and it must be central to the training of foster and adoptive parents.
  2. The Bible teaches us to pray. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).  Christians must pray to seek God’s will, and our agency is committed to regular prayer for parents who partner with us.  These prayers are for the purpose of our parents to clearly see God’s will in their lives, for us to accurately identify and understand what each family is equipped to handle, and to ask God to grant each of us wisdom through the process.
  3. The Bible has much to say about parenting. “The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Ps 19:7, NASB).  The children you bring into your home will need restoration.  They will need a place to feel safe and heal.  Christians are uniquely equipped to provide this environment.  These children will also display behaviors that surprise, disrupt, and change your family environment.  We can count on the Bible to give us the wisdom we need to parent during these tough circumstances.
  4. Finally, the Bible teaches us the power of community. “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Prov 27:17, NASB).  Being a foster parent should not be done in isolation.  It needs to be done in community.  In most cases this community includes not only your personal family supports, but also the biological family of the children in care.

Our staff can personally attest that foster parenting is tough!  However, as Christians we have been given the tools that we need to face these challenges head on while bringing glory to our God and Savior.  Arizona Faith and Families is committed to helping our families feel empowered, equipped, and supported as they navigate this process.  Please contact us or visit our FAQ page to find out more.

Arizona Faith and Families

Thank you for visiting our page!  In May, we received news from the state that our agency is now licensed and contracted to provide foster care and adoptive services to Arizona families!  We will be responsible for recruiting, training, and licensing foster families.  Our contract with the state begins July 1st of this year.  You can learn more about the history of our agency by visiting our History page.

Arizona currently has over 17,000 children in DCS care.  This crisis has been highly publicized in the news and media.  Please visit our FAQ page to find out how to take the first steps in becoming a licensed foster family.  There are so many ways to get involved.  We need emergency receiving homes so children aren’t sleeping in offices, we need respite homes so foster families can receive much needed rest, we need foster families so children have a place to call home in their time of crisis, and we need adoptive parents who are able to provide a forever-family to some amazing kids!  Contact us today to find out how to get involved.