Phoenix, AZ (June 1, 2015) – Just two weeks ago, Arizona’s severely abused and neglected children seeking emergency shelter had nowhere to sleep but a hard cot in an office building. In response to this recent crisis of space and placement faced by the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS), Childhelp®, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit advocating for abused and neglected children, stepped up in rapid response to help create a temporary haven for children facing sudden removal from their homes.
“These children need our help and it is with great humility that we pulled our community together to get the items needed to open the Children’s Placement Center in record time,” said Sara O’Meara co-founder, CEO and chairman of the board of Childhelp.
“Without the true public/private partnership between Childhelp, DCS and the City of Phoenix, this center would have never opened in the time it did. We are humbled by the support of the community to make this happen so quickly for the love of the children,” added Yvonne Fedderson, co-founder and president of Childhelp.
Childhelp and DCS have joined together to create the Children’s Placement Coordination and Assessment Center (Children’s Placement Center), a safe haven for abused and neglected children between the ages of 0 and 10. Beginning June 1, children in need will no longer have to sleep at the DCS offices. Instead, they will have a soft bed in a welcoming environment at the new center.
Working at an unprecedented pace, the Children’s Placement Center has taken shape in only two weeks as Childhelp Co-Founders Sara O’Meara and Yvonne Fedderson, along with many volunteers, worked tirelessly to make sure that each room is not only outfitted with a bed, but with welcoming décor to help calm children who are removed from their homes in emergency situations. All the beds were generously donated by local businesswoman, Debbie Gaby of Sleep America. Childhelp hopes this center becomes the national standard of care for children that are removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect.
"This is an incredible moment for our community's children in need," said DCS Director Greg McKay. "I'm tremendously thankful and inspired by the teamwork displayed to make this center a reality, especially in such a short period of time. I want to thank Sara and Yvonne, and everyone at Childhelp for their tireless devotion to this project. Without their generosity and continued advocacy for children this much needed progress would not have happened.
I also want to thank the City of Phoenix for allowing us the use of this building to solve an immediate crisis. Their expedient response to this situation brought about immediate resolve, something not often seen in Government."
Every day in Arizona an average of 15 children are removed from their homes because of severe instances of abuse or neglect. This Children’s Placement Center is meant to accommodate up to 30 children per night, age ten and under, for a period not to exceed 24 hours. DCS has created placement units to staff this center 24/7 to find appropriate foster settings. Approved volunteers will be on site to provide care and comfort to these displaced kids.
“It is our hope that children remain in their own homes with their own families, but sadly that is not always reality,” McKay added. “When our department removes a child due to a dangerous situation, we must do our best to make them safe and reduce the trauma they are experiencing; this center will do just that."
Donations are still needed to complete the Children’s Placement Center. Monetary donations and gift certificates can be sent to the Childhelp National Headquarters located at 4350 E. Camelback Rd. Suite F250, Phoenix, AZ 85018, c/o Childhelp Emergency Placement Center Fund.
A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds and nearly 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made annually. In the U.S., five children die each day from abuse and neglect and that is five too many. Childhelp’s programs work to solve these issues daily.
Since 1959, Childhelp® has brought the light of hope and healing into the lives of countless children as a leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping at-risk children. Childhelp's programs and services include residential treatment services, children's advocacy centers, therapeutic foster care, group homes and child abuse prevention, education and training. Childhelp created the Childhelp National Day of Hope®, held each April during National Child Abuse Prevention Month that mobilizes Americans to join the fight against child abuse. For more information, log on to www.childhelp.org, facebook.com/childhelp or twitter.com/childhelp.
About Arizona Department of Child Safety
The Arizona Department of Child Safety is a human service organization dedicated to achieving safety, well-being and permanency for children, youth and families through leadership and the provision of quality services in partnership with communities. Visit https://dcs.az.gov/ for more information or to report abuse call Arizona's Statewide Toll-Free Child Abuse Hotline at