April 15, 2024 9:03 PM

Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona Expands Programs to Foster Families in Yavapai County

Photo: Teen Maze – Iliana and TJ

Since 1993, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona has been serving children who have experienced trauma of abuse, neglect and/or homelessness or who are in foster care. The nonprofit is pleased to announce they will now be offering its life-changing programming in Prescott. Foster families and group homes in Prescott Valley can now take part in Free Arts weekly mentoring, professional artist series, Free Art Days, camps and special events.

Matt Sandoval, executive director at Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona said, “The expansion comes at a time when more support is needed. Yavapai County has about 400 children in foster care (not including Native nations) who often face trauma, instability, and a lack of support. It ranked 11th out of the 15 Arizona counties for health outcomes in 2020 and tends to have a high rate of child abuse and neglect, with 1,271 reports in 2020.”

Research shows that to process toxic stress caused by trauma, children need positive experiences and supportive relationships. That is where the Free Arts comes in to help kids safely express themselves through the arts while building transferable life skills, creating self-efficacy, and building resilience in a physically, emotionally, and psychologically safe environment.

“We know Yavapai County has a need for more foster parents, especially for older youth, sibling groups and children with special needs,” said Sandoval. “We’re hoping with our team on the ground, we can offer more support and coping skills to foster families.”

Free Arts’ trauma-informed, arts-based programming is designed to help children transform their trauma and build resilience through the arts. Success hinges on longstanding relationships with partner organizations across the Valley. In Prescott, Art Hive, Prescott Center for the Arts, Catholic Charities and The Launchpad Teen Center will help kick things off, with hope for continued growth over the years.

Upcoming Community Events Include:

April 14- The Lion King, Jr at Prescott Center for the Arts

April 21- Chalk it up! Prescott, The Launchpad

There will also host a Family Creativity Free Arts Days scheduled in March, June, and October through Prescott Area Shelter Services.

Later in 2024, Free Arts also hopes to expand its new Resilient Roots Program, which centers around helping unaccompanied minors build cultural resilience and YAEP (Young Adult Empowerment Program), aimed at helping young adults who have aged out of foster care.

Research found that up to 46 percent of youth exiting foster care experience homelessness by age 26. This program will help 18–26-year-olds with skill building, self-efficacy development and community engagement throughout expressive arts, peer mentorship and paid part-time work with Free Arts.

If you are a foster parent in Prescott or Prescott Valley and want to engage with Free Arts, please contact Peal Guerriere, Statewide Expansion Manager at pguerriere@freeartsaz.org.

About Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona

Founded in 1993, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona is a non-profit organization which transforms children’s trauma to resilience through the arts. Free Arts programs include creative elements that promote safety, self-expression and a sense of belonging. Free Arts programs are delivered by 900 volunteer mentors and artists who serve more than 8,000 children annually through partnerships with 43 social service child welfare agencies at 100+ sites across Maricopa County. For more information on Free Arts, visit: www.freeartsaz.org.


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