The Phoenix site was compelled by local need and conviction about Friends of the Children’s potential impact for children in Maricopa County. A local champion whose daughter works as a Friend at the Portland chapter led the effort to launch a Friends of the Children chapter in Phoenix. After securing commitments of more than $1.5M, the chapter officially launched in January 2022. Friends of the Children – Phoenix seeks to partner with the Roosevelt School District to select children into the program starting spring 2022.

The Arizona chapter has named longtime education professional Joy Klein its executive director. Friends of the Children–Phoenix launched this past January as a local, independent 501(c)3 that pairs children facing the greatest obstacles with paid, professional mentors—or Friends—who stay by each child’s side from as early as age 4 through high school graduation.

“I’m honored to have this opportunity to help serve the youth and families of Phoenix,” said Klein, executive director of Friends– Phoenix. “In Maricopa County alone, approximately 24 new children enter the foster care system every day. It’s crucial that these youth are empowered to reach their dreams and having a Friend for 12+ years no matter what can make a dramatic impact in their lives.”

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Each child enrolled in the Friends - Phoenix program will be paired with a paid, professional mentor called a Friend. For 12+ years, from ages 4 to 6 to high school graduation, Friends work with their youth in schools, at home, and in the community for 3 to 4 hours each week to build skills like problem-solving, perseverance, and self-management. These skills empower youth to pursue and achieve their goals in school and in life. Simultaneously, leveraging our two-generation approach, Friends will empower parents and caregivers to build their own skills as parents, advocate for themselves and their children, and increase connectedness to community resources that improve family stability.