Marie* was 15 years old when she came to Florence Crittenton. She was only 5 years old when her parents sold her into prostitution for the first time. When most little girls are learning to tie their shoes, Marie was enduring unimaginable things to pay for her parents’ drug habits. She arrived at our doorstep a very shy 15 year old girl who was robbed of a childhood, but after her time with us, Elizabeth was able to move forward in her life.
Sadly, Marie story is not unlike the many stories we see every day. Florence Crittenton programs are designed to provide a refuge and the support of a caring community for girls like Marie. Since 1896, Florence Crittenton has played a vital role in our community safety net system and successfully impacted the lives of countless abused, neglected, homeless and runaway girls and young women.
Arizona’s child welfare system is stressed beyond its capacity with the dramatic rise in the number of children and teens removed from unsafe living environments and in need of care. By June (2013), 14,608 children were in out-of-home care--the highest number in Arizona history and a 43% increase since 2010 (AZ Department of Economic Security). Child Protective Services (CPS) reports show that the agency is currently removing a record average of 850 children per month from their homes due to suspected abuse and neglect. Once removed from home, these children may be placed in a family-centered environment, but most are not that fortunate--particularly given the decline in foster homes (currently 3,516 statewide). Instead, they are placed in a group home or shelter. This instability adversely impacts Arizona’s most vulnerable children.
Girls in the child welfare system are at risk for additional challenges and unhealthy coping responses such as eating disorders and depression, and/or additional victimization including violence, abuse, homelessness and prostitution. Lack of stability adds further trauma to their already fragile lives. Girls in foster care are also more prone to higher rates of sexual risk-taking behaviors and are 2.5 times more likely to get pregnant by age 19 than their peers not in foster care (Bilaver & Courtney, 2006). Teens (particularly if pregnant/parenting) are the most difficult to place; hence, they are referred to crisis shelters and group homes at alarming rates.
As Arizona’s second oldest nonprofit, we offer an unmatched array of treatment, education and support to individuals in need, and have become a highly respected and effective leader in the field of gender-responsive services. To make a profound difference in the lives of girls and young women, ages 10 to 21, suffering the effects of abuse, family violence, trauma, mental illness, and similar issues, we offer comprehensive services that span all levels of intensity of care and provide multiple opportunities for preventing and addressing behavioral health challenges. Using evidence-based interventions and therapeutic models, we develop within each life we touch a sense of responsibility and accountability through daily programming, leadership opportunities and developmental life lessons.
Our mission is to give every girl whose life we touch safety, hope, and opportunity. Our primary goal is to change the lives of the girls we serve by allowing them to discover the support of a caring community and develop a positive outlook for their future. Over 1,000 individuals annually are empowered to address life challenges and achieve their fullest potential through our programs:
Our service area spans across Arizona; however, most clients live in Maricopa County.
*Marie’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.