Since its inception, Aviva Children’s Services has existed to improve the lives of children who have experienced abuse, neglect, and poverty and are in the care of Child Protective Services (CPS). Aviva began in 1978 after the local Tucson newspaper ran a series of articles revealing serious inadequacies in Arizona’s foster care system. In the next few years, Aviva grew from a loosely organized group of volunteers to one of the largest providers of service to children in the care of Child Protective Services. In 1999 Aviva was incorporated as a nonprofit in the State of Arizona.
We continue to seek good persons to work as volunteer Mentors, Social Worker Assistants, and Life Book writers. With the loss of stay-at-home-moms who now have gone to work and with increased competition for volunteers among Tucson’s many worthy agencies, we struggle to meet the companionship needs of CPS children. Pima County’s population has doubled since our program began, now reaching nearly one million, including a commensurate increase in numbers of needy children and families.
“What We Do”
Aviva serves the foster children of Pima County through three programs. The Volunteer Program, the Parent Aide Program, and the Parent Peer Support Program.
The Volunteer Program
Aviva’s Volunteer Program functions have been expanded as needs and opportunities have emerged. These include:
- The Life Book Project
- The Bags-For-Kids program
- The Sew-A-Thon
- The solicitation of in-kind goods and monies to help fund special needs of CPS children.
We rely on the goodwill of both individuals and organizations to provide in-kind goods and monies to provide for the special needs of foster children. The Southern Arizona Diaper Bank, The Community Food Bank, Sun Tran, Payless Shoe Resource, The Zoo, amusement parks and many others have responded to our requests for in-kind and monetary resources. During the Holiday months we have as many as 700 volunteers helping provide toys, clothing and food for children in CPS custody. Our largest contributor of toys and cash is the Sun Riders Motorcycle Club. Its annual toy parade recently celebrated its 27th year.
The Parent Aide Program
Another important service Aviva provides is the facilitation of visits between foster children and their birth family. The Child Welfare community has documented a very important link between family reunification and frequent, good quality parent-child visits. Until recently, visitation was a reward for parents who followed their case plans. Visitation is held to be the legal right of separated children and parents, only to be denied when there is proof it is detrimental to the well being of the children.
The thrust is to make visits family-friendly in spirit and, when possible, family-friendly in location. The goal is to move visits out of CPS offices and into public places and family homes as safety allows.
Aviva Visit Supervisors transport children from school, day care and foster homes to libraries, museums, amusement parks, shopping malls and fast food restaurants. They carry books for children to browse en route and sports equipment for games with siblings and parents at the parks. The Aviva Parent Aide Program currently supervises close to 1,000 visits per month.
The Parent Peer Support Program
Our Ongoing Parental Support program serves to strengthen families who have met court directives and are currently reunified. We do this through outreach, resource and peer support.
Our motto—“because every child matters”—compels us to seek ever new and more effective ways to improve the quality of life for children who have experienced the effects of abuse, neglect and poverty.