Arizona child welfare agency, nonprofit open emergency housing center

Jun 1, 2015, 7:43 AM | Updated: 7:43 am

PHOENIX — When children in dangerous situations are removed from their homes, it usually takes at least a day to place them in foster care. Now, a new emergency placement center is acting as a safe haven.

Every day in Arizona, an average of 15 children are removed from their homes, with more than 17,000 children in the foster care system, according to Childhelp.

In the past, when children were to be placed in foster care, they spent the night in Arizona Department of Child Safety field offices. Now, the department and the nonprofit Childhelp are partnering to open a child emergency placement center.

“When media has shined the light on this thing over the last couple years, looking at field offices and saying, ‘There’s children sleeping in field offices, this is wrong,’ we’re saying no more,” Child Safety Director Greg McKay said.

The Children’s Placement Center in Phoenix will provide neglected and abused children a comfortable place to stay in the 24 hours after they are taken from their homes.

The center will be staffed around the clock, 365 days a year with DCS placement specialists and employees.

Childhelp volunteers will also assist with basic care of the children, providing clothes, food and toys.

Child Safety and Childhelp began planning for the center two weeks ago, after receiving support and a space from the city of Phoenix.

Without a budget, the two groups worked together to supply the center with decorations, beds and enough supplies to keep children comfortable.

However, McKay said these emergency placement measures are just a short-term solution to a larger problem.

“I’m really calling for more families to consider themselves as possible foster families. We really need the public to join in with us and try to help us with this problem because our community, unfortunately, is in bad shape,” McKay said.

The center will begin to accept children June 1. To donate, visit the website and mention the emergency placement center in the remarks box.

Potential volunteers can learn more at the Child Safety website.

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Arizona child welfare agency, nonprofit open emergency housing center