Founded in Tucson, Arizona’s Children Association celebrates a century of services for children and families

Posted on by az100

By Dayna Gabler, for Inside Tucson Business

Friday, July 29, 2011 8:00 am | Updated: 12:56 pm, Thu Jul 28, 2011.

Arizona’s Children Association was founded in 1912 during a meeting of the Women’s Missionary Society of the First Christian Church of Tucson. As the group discussed its missionary work, it was revealed that local orphan children were being sent to a Home in California rather than handling placement in Arizona.

Inspired by this dialog, Minnie Davenport made a motion to found a nonsectarian Home in Arizona where orphaned and neglected children could be cared for and adopted. The group generated support and drafted by-laws for the formation of Arizona Children’s Home Association.

In 1914, Julia Attix donated 7.5 acres of land to the association to construct a permanent home to serve the children. A temporary home with accommodations for six children was opened in 1915 while construction was underway.

The permanent home, with accommodations for 60 children, was completed in 1921. The agency’s Tucson headquarters remain in that original building today.

As the need increased, Arizona’s Children Association rose to the occasion. An infirmary and nursery were added to the property in the 1920s and ’30s to care for children who were arriving from every county across the state. By 1960, the association was beginning to focus on the mental health needs of the agency’s children and hired a psychiatric social worker with funds from the Federal Mental Health Act.

In 1963, the Nellie P. Covert School was founded for the purpose of providing special education. During the 1990s, the association began providing regional services across Arizona and in 1997 the agency changed its name to Arizona’s Children Association to better reflect the diversity of current services.

By the late 1990s, the association began to realize the limitations of its intervention efforts to make long-lasting changes in the lives of troubled youth.

In the words of Arizona’s Children Association’s President and CEO Fred Chaffee, “from a mission perspective of protecting children and preserving families, we need to be serving kids earlier; we need to give families tools and reach kids before the need to intervene in their troubled lives later on.”

As a result, strategic mergers became the primary hallmark, enabling the association to provide a broader scope of programs and services for children and families. The Arizona’s Children Association family now includes seven merged agencies, including In My Shoes, the Parent Connection, Las Familias, and the Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault, all based in Tucson.

Today, the agency serves more than 46,000 children and their families in all 15 Arizona counties.

Programs offered include foster and kinship care, adoption, crisis nursery, family support and preservation, prevention, counseling, substance abuse and sexual abuse treatment, special education school, early childhood education, Head Start, adult education, preventive health and fitness and a neighborhood community center.

Community leaders have joined Arizona’s Children Association staff and supporters as they celebrate their “First Century of Hope” and honor donors, volunteers, employees and families who have contributed to the success of the association over the past 100 years.

These celebrations have been named as official state centennial events and provide an opportunity to celebrate Arizona’s Children Association’s commitment to providing a second century of hope to our communities.

“Our 100-year history tells the story of pioneering Arizonans whose commitment to children has endured for generations,” added CEO Chaffee. “Arizona’s Children Association is a part of Tucson’s legacy and a significant part of the state’s history.”

Guests at the centennial celebrations are asked to sign a “Book of Hope” to offer advice that will inspire future generations of children, families, volunteers, communities, staff members, business partners, elected officials, financial donors and board members all working together to continue a legacy of hope for Arizona. The Book of Hope will travel to centennial receptions across Arizona through next year then be preserved for Arizona’s Bicentennial.

“As we celebrate our ‘First Century of Hope’ we are reminded that our work, in many ways, has just begun,” Chaffee says. “We have been there for Arizona communities for nearly 100 years, and with continued community support, we will be there in the future.”

Focus on Nonprofits is a quarterly feature of Inside Tucson Business, coordinated by Susan Silverman, executive director of G.A.R.D.E.N. Inc. (Growing Alternative Resource Development and Enterprise Network), a 501(c)3 organization that provides grantwriting and grants management services, strategic planning, consultation and networking solutions for organizations, businesses and individuals.

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