West Valley organization finds loving homes for children in need
For Camille and Anthony Bineyard, the decision to welcome a foster child into their home was a clear choice. With three children of their own, they knew they had room in their home—and their hearts—for the tiny, 5-month-old baby they encountered at their local foster agency.
“As a child, I always saw my family as very nurturing. My grandfather had a church and we’ve always seen caring for others. [Because of that,] we wanted to open our home to children,” says Camille, who works as a teacher’s aid. “When we first met Victor, he was so cute and so little, we just wanted to give him as much love as he needed.”
In January 2015, shortly after Victor made his entrance into their lives, his biological mother became pregnant again. The couple was asked to foster Victor’s baby brother, but Camille had become pregnant with her fourth child and so the couple felt compelled to say no.
“It was so heartbreaking,” says Camille. “It killed us to say no.”
But then, an amazing thing happened. Camille asked her twin sister who lived one block away if she would consider welcoming a foster child into her home. Her answer was yes. Now, two years later, the brothers often spend time together and both families are in the process of adopting the two children.
“It’s one of those things that’s almost like a miracle that we were able not only to plan it out for this to work out as it did, but for Camille to have a twin sister that was also willing to adopt and also happened to be nearby,” says Anthony, an information technology specialist for an airline. “Everything was able to be put in place perfectly like it was meant to be.”
When the Bineyards first welcomed Victor, their children were already in school, so everything they needed for a new baby had to be repurchased. The couple reached out to the West Valley Child Crisis Center (WVCCC), an organization that provides a wide variety of educational programs and placement services to ensure children in need are matched with loving families. The Bineyards found everything they hoped for, from strollers and diapers, to nurturing guidance and support.
“The center was very helpful,” says Camille. “When we got Victor, he didn’t even have a bottle. He had a teddy bear and a change of clothes. We went straight to West Valley Child Crisis Center and they provided us with diapers, bottles and a stroller.”
Established more than 30 years ago, the WVCCC recruits, trains and certifies families or relatives that wish to become foster or adoptive parents. To fulfill its mission to end the cycle of violence for children and families, the state-contracted agency provides state-mandated training to ensure that children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned are placed with loving families that are fully equipped to provide the emotional and financial stability the children need.
As more children throughout the Valley are entering into foster care, the WVCCC has expanded its services to accommodate the need for care and services.
“Our child crisis center has had amazing growth over the last couple of years,” says chief executive officer Kary Goitia. “We went from eight or nine employees to almost 80 within a year and a half. With that growth, came the number of children we serve. We had 426 percent growth from fiscal year 2013-2014 to 2015-2016.”
Responding to the changing needs of the community, the WVCCC has shifted its focus in recent years.
“Our mission is to be proactive in ending the cycle of family violence,” says Goitia. “The agency has evolved to deliver a continuum of care to each of our clients.”
Whereas the agency used to focus on providing shelter services in addition to educational programs, the current focus is to connect children in need with families that are educated, trained and certified to provide a stable, caring living environment.
“We provide these children that are removed from their homes with almost every service to meet the needs that they have when it comes to mental health services and safe placement services,” says Goitia.
In addition to paving the way for families choosing to foster or adopt, WVCCC also provides family reunification services delivered in partnership with the Arizona Department of Child Safety. Through the Family Visitation Program, the WVCCC promotes visitation to improve familial relationships, encourage partnerships between parents and foster families, and provide an opportunity to practice parenting skills.
“We provide safe placement for children and we also teach parents new skills and how to manage their home life,” says Linda Cook, director of development.
Story by Leigh Farr
Photography by Mark Lipczynski