Letters: Verde Valley churches step up to help foster families in need

Editor:

In the last five years, Arizona has seen a 61-percent increase in the number of foster children.  The average age of these children is 9 years old and they typically stay in the system for a couple of years before they are returned home or given a new home.  It is nearly impossible for these kids to understand and cope with the tragic circumstances that led to their removal.  They need loving families to step up and help.

Foster families are in short supply here in the Verde Valley.  Often kids who are removed from homes in our area are also being removed from the community and taken to other parts of the state.  They are not only removed from their parents, but they lose contact with their school, their friends, and everybody they are familiar with.

There are many foster families in our area who are dealing with the difficulties of helping abused children with little outside support.  The system itself is in need of reform and the problem can seem quite overwhelming!  As a church community, we decided that we could do something to help; there are a number of needs within the system.  

For years, Canyon Bible Church has been supplying a change of clothes, a blanket, toiletries, a toy, and a Bible to foster kids through our Backpacks of Hope Ministry.   The need isn’t only for finding new foster families.  There are lesser needs ranging from buying a stuffed animal, to offering advocacy services, to giving respite care.  

To help inform the community about the needs of our foster families, churches in Northern Arizona are joining together in a movement called AZ 1.27.  So far, this movement includes about 80 churches in Northern AZ including Canyon Bible Church, The Heights, Christ’s Church of Flagstaff, Harvest Bible Chapel of Flagstaff and Redemption Church.  

This state-wide network has been highly effective in getting services to foster families in other communities and the groundwork is being laid for AZ 1.27 in the Verde Valley, where it aims to bring together people to help with our local foster care and adoption issues.

AZ 1.27 will be hosting a meeting at the end of the month where all the government and adoption agencies will be available to explain the Verde Valley’s need to the church community.  This meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 28th from 6-8 p.m. at the Mountain View United Methodist Church in Cottonwood (901 South 12th Street).  For more information, visit CanyonVerde.org or az127.org

Mark Stafford

Senior Pastor

Canyon Bible Church of Verde Valley

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