Record number of AZ children waiting for foster family

Published: Apr. 28, 2016 at 8:13 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 4:12 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - With a record number of children who are waiting for a foster family, the Arizona foster care system is in a crisis.

More than 18,000 children in Arizona's foster care system are in need of a foster family.

In Pima County, there are more than 3,000 children in need of a foster family and only 740 licensed foster care homes.

Officials with the Department of Child Safety said children in foster care have been removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect or abandonment.

The children are often separated from their siblings.

It can be a scary time for them, as their future is uncertain.

The Foster and Adoptive Council of Tucson is also now seeing a wide age range of children who need to be placed in foster homes.

"It used to be more difficult to find homes for teens, but the current crisis we're in, it's literally zero to 17. We often have babies we cannot find a foster home for. That didn't used to be the case," said Michaela Luna-Romero, chairwoman of the Foster and Adoptive Council of Tucson.

Dimon Sanders was placed with a foster care family, who have since adopted her, when she was 13 years old.

Her mother said at the time, she had behavior issues and low self-esteem.

Dimon said before she met this family, it was difficult to be shuffled around the system.

"When I was placed in the system I was confused on why they took me away from my bio family and placed me with a family I didn't know," Sanders said. "Right away I developed behavior issues. I didn't respect the parents, didn't respect the home or the kids which caused me to disrupt the home and be in multiple foster homes."

Two years later, she's making a name for herself as a sophomore at Marana High School.

Dimon was recently named Miss City of Maricopa outstanding teen.

The council will be hosting their annual Blue Ribbon Event on Sunday, May 1 in an effort to bring awareness about this problem to the community.

It will be held from 3-6 p.m. at Thoroughbred Nissan, located at 5163 E. 22nd Street.

The mission of the event is to honor the children in foster care. It will feature food, entertainment and activities.

The event will conclude with a bio-degradable balloon release ceremony.

To learn more about how to begin the process to become a foster or adoptive parent in Arizona, call 1-877-KIDS-NEED-U.

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