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Trio working to open space in Mesa for foster children, families in Arizona

Posted at 4:16 AM, Mar 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-08 08:08:34-05

MESA — ABC15 first introduced you to three East Valley mothers back in 2016.

It was Susan Woodruff's son that was the face of Jacob's Law.

"Jacob is a ray of sunshine," Woodruff said then. "He is truly a joy to be around."

Her son suffered horrific abuse before he joined the family. He now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental issues.

“It's heartbreaking to have a child who is so severe that they need to go out of home to get care,” explained Woodruff back in 2016.

Jacob was forced to wait 10 months to get mental help.

Woodruff says the foster care system, simply overwhelmed with kids, has long waiting lists for care and is also cluttered with red tape.

It was an experience shared with fellow Arizona foster parents Anika Robinson and Angela Teachout.

The trio created the law with support from nearly two dozen legislators. It passed and was designed to cut red tape within the system by setting a 30-day time limit for mental evaluations and allows foster parents to get help for kids faster, among other things.

They also formed the organization ASA Now.

"After Anika, Susan, and Angela because we get things done now," Teachout joked. "But, it's actually Advocate, Support, and Assist."

On Friday, they are working to move their work from the State Capitol to Jacob's Mission Community Center near Power Road and University Drive.

They want it to be a space for foster children and their families to come together. They are hosting a fundraiser called the "Inspirational Fundraiser Breakfast". Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Senator John McCain, is one of the speakers at the event.

The money raised on Friday will go to opening the Mesa center.

The three mothers took ABC15 inside the current construction zone.

"I think it's breathtaking to see something that you dream of creating for other vulnerable children just coming to fruition," said Robinson.

They'll offer tutors for homework, trauma counselors, a sensory room, music and dance lessons, along with a full kitchen.

"You can see the set-up for restaurants or a cafe and be able to get a job," Robinson explained.

They also have permits to do equine therapy and aquatic therapy outside the facility.

"My kids have had the opportunities to be in dance and to be in music," Woodruff said. "And I've seen how healing that is in their lives and I want all kids who are impacted by foster care to have access to these activities that are going to help build their self esteem."

The three have gotten donations that are now piled up inside the Mesa center. But, the operational costs for the facility will be thousands of dollars each month.

So, they are looking for help - either volunteering time, donating items, or donating money.

"They go to our schools. They live in our neighborhoods and I just don't want them to become another statistic," Robinson said through tears.

Between the three women, they have taken in nearly two dozen children.

"I can't adopt the 20,000 children that are in Arizona right now needing homes... but, I can help... educate and advocate," Teachout said.

They hope to open in the next couple of months if this fundraiser is a success, that way they can give other foster kids they cannot adopt a place to call home.

If you do want to donate, Robinson stressed the importance of understanding the new tax credit increase that occurred back in 2016. It raised the tax credit amounts to $1,000 for married couples and $500 for single taxpayers.

"This credit is in addition to credits for donations to public or private schools and it is available to all, whether or not you itemize dedications," the ASA Now website explained. To learn more about a monetary donation, click here.

To sign up to volunteer your time, click here. For a list of items that they need donated, click here.

For more information on ASA Now, click here.