Angela, Susan and Anika -
In the fall of 2015, three foster and adoptive mothers recognized that someone needed to do something to help children impacted by foster care receive the behavioral health services they so desperately needed. Despite having 24 children between us, Angela, Susan, and I realized that WE were the someone, and joined forces to author HB2442, which passed unanimously and with an emergency clause, known as Jacob’s Law on March 24th, 2016. This groundbreaking legislation accelerated state-paid behavioral-health screenings for foster children and put deadlines on therapy and medical appointments and services. It required the state to provide critical information to foster parents at the time of placement, enacted protections for caregivers, and mandated timelines for Out-of-Home placement for children with high acute needs who are not safe living at home and require a higher level of care.
In the process of running legislation, we heard countless heartbreaking stories from foster and adoptive parents about the ways the system had failed their children. The gaps in support for kinship, foster and adoptive families became painfully clear and we knew we had to do something more to support those who had welcomed Arizona’s most vulnerable children into their homes.
ASA Now - In 2016, less than two months after Jacob's Law passed, we started our own non-profit and hit the ground running by creating opportunities to get our community involved in supporting dedicated caregivers and helping meet immediate needs for children entering foster care. Through the generosity of many donors like you, ASA Now has been able to help to provide assistance to offset the costs of clothing, food, hygiene items, school supplies, birthday presents and holiday presents. Our services are offered statewide and over the past five years our angel volunteers have made serving our community possible through their talens and time. We hold Parents’ Night Out events, where caregivers can drop off all the children in the home and have an evening away. To date, you have helped us serve more than 31,000 children impacted by foster care in Arizona. For caregivers we provide weekly therapeutic workshops, and twice a month support groups where they find solace in the companionship of other caregivers who are also parenting children from hard places. We offer an annual Trauma Mama, Couples and Family retreat, as well as a 24/7 crisis and advocacy number. To our knowledge, we are the only foster care nonprofit organization that serves kinship and foster families throughout Arizona 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ASA Now is committed to ensuring that all children and families who have been touched by foster care succeed. Prevention is at the forefront of our vision. We offer innovative services and events that promote health development and support for biological, kinship, foster and adoptive families and all their children. We believe that opportunities and education improve outcomes. Our mission is to support and strengthen the most vulnerable population by providing the necessary education and skills needed to flourish and thrive.
Jacob's Mission Community Center - In 2018 after learning that only 32 percent of foster children graduate from high school and that only one to three percent graduate from high school, we started a 501(c)(3) public charity. A program of ASA Now, Jacob's Mission Community Center is a trauma focused after school program serving children and youth impacted by foster care in grades K-12th. Since the birth of our charity in 2020, Jacob's Mission was able to serve 959 children. Our mission is to improve the educational outcomes of students impacted by foster care by providing high-quality afterschool and life skills programs. These programs encompass a broad range of focus areas including academic support, mentoring, arts, dance, yoga, cooking, basketball, piano, guitar, ukulele, musical theater, health, positive youth development, educational, housing and workforce development programs for youth ages 14-18. The activities children and youth engage in outside of school hours are critical to their overall development, highlighting the need for quality afterschool programs in our community. Jacob's Mission helps children and youth reach their fullest potential by helping them discover and develop their talents. We offer after school activities; life skills and we provide after school activities which help them discover their fullest potential by helping them develop their talents.
Shade Tree Academy - In 2019, we recognized a real need to build a trauma focused school taught by clinicians educated in traumatology, neurodevelopment, and attachment. The school provides a quality education to children experiencing significant academic, behavioral, and social difficulties at school. Children who have experienced ruptured attachments due to the separation from their family of origin. Children whose lives were impacted by foster care. We wanted to give them an opportunity to improve their lives, while also providing them an opportunity to learn sound values, emotional self-regulation techniques, practice service to others, and respect the dignity of all people they come in contact with. In 2020 we were approved as a private school nonprofit organization. In 2021, without a physical location, we started serving five children at a time through borrowed space. Tuition is paid through STO's or ESA funds.
In 2021, after a year of working with architectural faculty at ADM Group as well as Developers at Davcon Aviation and Mesa Hanger designing and planning a school which incorporates best practices for educating children impacted by trauma, we were excited to report that we’ve secured four million dollars donated by Dell Loy Hansen and Randy Hansen, founder of Mesa Hanger, and we know that our goal of five million dollars is within reach. The architectural design for the school has been completed and with the help of David Wakefield from Davcon Aviation, building permits will soon be acquired. We aim to start the construction of Shade Tree Academy in the spring of 2023! ASA Now is responsible to raise a million dollars to furnish, equip and operate the school. Please help us cross the finish line. Thank you for being part of our journey and thank you for giving our community the "Gift of Hope!"