Creative connections for kids in foster care


PHOENIX – Three recent events highlighted how community groups can enhance the lives of children in foster care.

In the first event, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona hosted an exclusive “Experience Polynesia” Day for foster families at the Musical Instrument Museum.

About 100 attendees spent the day making leis, touring the museum, experimenting with musical instruments and learning how to hula dance.

“Free Arts was thrilled to partner with the Department of Child Safety and the Musical Instrument Museum to provide foster families with an opportunity to connect to the arts and one another as they discovered their family’s gifts and talents,” said Jessica Flowers, Free Arts Program Director, whose agency uses art to build resilience in children who have experienced trauma.

Foster families appreciated this first-time event.

Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona held its first-ever event exclusively for children in foster care at the MIM.

“I am so grateful because it’s important to provide happy experiences and good memories for children in foster care,” said one foster parent about the impact the event had on the kids who attended.

In the second event, the Department of Child Safety partnered with the Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS to hold Standing Proud! for LGBTQ youth “aging out” of foster care.

About 30 youths attended the inaugural event.

Standing Proud! featured workshops, live bands and guest speakers who shared their stories and advice.

Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS hosted 30 youth “aging out” of foster care to provide advice and support.

“We focused on the youth being proud of who they are and the community they belong to,” said Shannon Clayton, DCS Independent Living Specialist.

Youth who attended also heard a presentation from a police detective on what to do if they feel discriminated against and they had lessons on yoga and stress management.

#LoveUp provided t-shirts for the youths and arranged the dinner, which was donated by My Slice of Pie.

“Students supporting Youth” with a fashion show

On June 9th, the Studio Academy of Beauty held the first of two fashion shows with the proceeds benefiting OCJ Kids.

“These shows will give our students the chance to apply their talents and skills learned while also benefiting others,” said Cathy Koluch, president and founder of the Studio Academy of Beauty.

Cathy Koluch, president and founder of the Studio Academy of Beauty, poses with one of many models that participated in the fashion show at the Tolleson campus in support of children in foster care.

OCJ Kids (Opportunity, Community and Justice for Kids) specializes in connecting the community and resources to children in foster care as they approach adulthood.

The next show is on June 23 in Phoenix. If you are interested in attending that show, call 602-841-5993.

How you can help

DCS welcomes any and all support for children in foster care from the business or non-profit communities.

“It means the world to our children-in-care when they see that the community cares enough to hold an event for them,” said DCS Director Greg McKay.

If you own a business or are part of an organization looking for ways to help children in foster care, consider holding an event for foster families to enjoy or reserve a few places at your event for foster families to attend.

For more information on how you can include foster families in your next event, contact the DCS Community Liaison at