New Welcome Center gives extra support for Arizona youth entering foster care system
Aug 17, 2023, 4:35 AM | Updated: 7:06 am
PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Child Safety has opened a new trauma-informed Welcome Center to facilitate kids’ entry into the state’s foster care system.
A ribbon cutting was held Tuesday at the 50,000-square-foot facility, which opened earlier this year. Gov. Katie Hobbs and former Govs. Doug Ducey and Jan Brewer were among those who attended the ceremony.
The Welcome Center will be many children’s first stop when entering the foster system.
What’s in the Welcome Center?
The campus provides youths with age-appropriate play and sleeping areas, a cafeteria, three outdoor playgrounds, a sensory room and a crisis response room. An onsite Phoenix Children’s clinic will open soon.
“We have all the basic needs here, any hygiene, any clothing to fit any size. Our food is prepared for any kid that might have an allergy, if they have diabetes, anything like that,” said Amy Fox, statewide placement administrator for DCS.
Every room was designed with intention, Fox added.
“We were very thoughtful with all the colors that were chosen. You’ll see a lot of greens and blues, and things like that are very calming for children. We also have different sensory activities that the kids can do,” she said.
How does the facility help children?
Children entering the Welcome Center can be assessed both physically and mentally by providers until a caregiver is located. The new center can sleep up to 48 kids a night, more than double the capacity of the previous facility.
On average, a child will stay at the DCS Welcome Center for about two days.
“We are matching children to caregivers, we’re not just putting them in any open bed, so sometimes that can take a little longer,” Fox said. “There really is no timeframe of how long they can stay here.”
Hobbs stated 4,000 kids enter foster care in Arizona yearly.
“Our children and teens need a safe supportive space, and the meaningful upgrades in the facility will provide just that,” Hobbs said.
Twenty-seven percent of all children entering foster care, more than 200 per month, will start at the Welcome Center, DCS said.
Since the center’s opening in March, nearly 1,000 children have been served.