Foster care advocates: Foster care for adolescents needs improvement

Fostering Advocates for Arizona (FAAZ) released a document on Monday, asking the state legislature to improve the foster care system and how it handles teenagers and those who are close to aging out of the system.

The group spent the day speaking to lawmakers about their proposal.

FAAZ released “Fostering Advocates Arizona 2016 Advocacy Document,” which focuses on five key points to help improve the foster care system.

According to the document, the summary of the priorities include:

  • Normal adolescent experiences
  • Enhanced screening and matching process for foster care placements
  • A strong relationship with Department of Child Safety (DCS) Case Specialists
  • Permanent placements with a family as a case plan priority
  • Consistent access and enrollment in health care

Desaray Klimenko is a member of FAAZ and spent time in the foster care system.

“The changes that need to be made, that can truly put a positive impact in the lives of thousands of youths that are currently experiencing foster care,” Klimenko said.

Bringing voices of former youth to the state legislature is important, Beth Rosenberg, director of child welfare and juvenile justice for Children’s Action Alliance, explained. She also spoke about the importance of preparing foster youth for adulthood.

“The trauma that exists from moving from placement to placement, from caseworkers changing often and not have the supports they need as they transition to adulthood,” Rosenberg said.

Having their voices heard, not just by lawmakers, but by the public is why Klimenko says it’s personally important to her to be present at the capitol.

“I’ve experienced the foster care system and in the past few years, Arizona has experienced a crisis within the foster care system,” Klimenko said. “I think it’s important for people to just be aware of the crisis that Arizona is currently experiencing within foster care and the different kind of support that foster children need.”

For more information or to view the document, visit FosteringAdvocatesArizona.org.