Corner Office: No one should have to choose between a loved one or a job

A letter from Eric Schindler, President and CEO

Let’s picture this: Maria Suarez, a single mother, is an employee at an agency in Tucson. Last Tuesday, Maria’s six year old daughter, Diana, woke up crying with a raging headache and a fever of 102 degrees!

Luckily, Maria had some children’s Tylenol in the house and was able to get Diana to take a big dose, along with some liquids. So she gave her a cool bath and Diana’s fever went down. Maria got her daughter dressed , dropped her off at school with a reminder to take it easy at school, and go to the nurse’s office if she didn’t feel better. Of course, by lunch time, Maria had a voice mail on her phone asking her to please call the school immediately to make arrangements to come get her sick child.

Maria delayed calling back. On the surface it seems like she’s a neglectful mother. Is she?

Consider what happens next. Consider how at two pm when she placed her call back to the school, her supervisor interrupted her conversation with the school nurse.

“Is your daughter sick, again?” her supervisor asked. “You can’t bring her to the office.”

Maria hesitated as she tried to explain that she didn’t have anybody else to watch her daughter, but her supervisor interrupted, “Maria, you’re an hourly employee, so if you leave now and take off tomorrow we won’t pay you. And, I’m beginning to wonder if you’re really able to manage this job….”

So, Maria can either leave to take care of her sick daughter who needs her or stay at the office in order to secure a reliable paycheck and continues employment, which she and her daughter also need.

This is the dilemma of many people in the United States, because we live in one of the few countries in the world that does not require employers to offer sick days. There are 163 countries around the world that guarantee paid sick time, but not the United States!

Don’t think that scenario sounds real? One in six workers in the U.S. report that they or a family member have been fired, suspended, punished or threatened with such action by an employer because they needed to take sick time for themselves or a family member.

  • Nearly 40% of private sector workers in the U.S. lack paid sick time. The problem is even worse in Tucson, where 50% of all private sector workers lack paid sick time.
  • Low-income workers are significantly less likely to have access to paid sick time than other workers. Among full-time, private sector workers in Tucson who earn less than $15,000 a year, 74% lack paid sick time. Furthermore, 72% of service workers and 82% of workers in Tucson employed less than 35 hours a week lack paid sick time.

Workers should not have to worry about losing their jobs or being punished because they are sick or need to care for an ill loved one. In fact, surveys show that a vast majority of Arizonans from all political parties favor earning paid sick time.

We are proud to be part of a coalition that is working to have the mayors and city councils of Tucson and Tempe pass a modest ordinance that will require employers to offer sick leave if they want to do business in those cities.

Join in the fight! We are looking for stories of people who have had to endure tough circumstances because they had no sick days, or people who have benefited from their sick leave, or other compelling related stories. Please read the flier and fact sheet, and if you know of any clients, colleagues, friends or family who has a story to tell, please encourage them to simply write it in a simple email and send to Molly McGovern or Courtney Frogge


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Eric Schinder, Ph.D.
President and CEO

Since 2005, Dr. Eric Schindler has been the President and Chief Executive Officer  for Child & Family Resources, Inc.  Dr. Schindler received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Arizona in 1982. After internship training in child and family psychology at U.C. Davis, and postdoctoral training in pediatric psychology in Chicago, he has spent over 30 years working in Tucson community settings as an administrator, director, teacher and practitioner.  A licensed psychologist since 1984, he also served as an adjunct instructor in Family Studies at the University of Arizona for many years. 

Previously, Dr. Schindler served for nine years as the Director of Clinical Services for La Frontera Center, Inc., a comprehensive community behavioral healthcare organization, where he was also the Director of Training for the APA approved Southern Arizona Psychology Internship Consortium. He maintained a  private practice in psychotherapy for 20 years prior to assuming the leadership of Child & Family Resources.

Lives You’re Changing: Kate and Daniel’s Story

Every day, Child & Family Resources’ Building Bright Futures program helps parents increase their knowledge of early childhood development, gain positive parenting techniques, provide early detection of developmental delays, and strengthen their children’s readiness for school and success. In FY2013-14, we served nearly 400 families and 500 children in Arizona. Here is just one of the many personal stories which showcases the impact and success of this very special program.

Kate, a young mother to two-year-old Daniel, joined the Building Bright Futures program over concerns about her child’s speech. She explained that it was difficult for her to understand Daniel, and that she felt he was having trouble learning. Although Kate spent time with him to try and help him learn basic colors, shapes, numbers, and letters, Daniel simply was unable to retain any information. Seeking advice, Kate had him screened by her local school district, but was told that he was fine and wasn’t eligible for developmental preschool.

With the help and guidance of her Parent Educator from Building Bright Futures, working together on parent/child activities in language development, Kate was referred to the Arizona Literacy and Learning Center for another evaluation for Daniel. The results showed that Daniel was scoring 70% below where his speech should’ve been for his age. With the new results in hand, Kate persisted in having another evaluation by her school district, and fortunately, this time Daniel was found eligible for developmental preschool.

After attending six months of developmental preschool, Daniel is now able to count to ten and can recognize at least eight numbers, nineteen letters, knows his shapes and colors, and is beginning to write the letters of his name. He’s also receiving speech therapy each week, and Kate is already seeing amazing improvements. Moreover, Kate and Daniel recently attended a Story Time event through the Building Bright Futures Group Connections group, where for the first time, Daniel was engaged, interacted, and asked questions – something he didn't do before.

Kate decided not to ignore her concerns and with determination and persistence, was able to receive the vital services she needed for Daniel to learn, grow, and succeed!

Kate and Daniel’s story wouldn’t be possible without the partnerships with special friends of Child & Family Resources, like you, who are making this life-changing work possible every day. Your ongoing support is making life better for thousands of Arizona children and families every year. On behalf of Kate, Daniel, and all of us at Child & Family Resources, a heartfelt thank you!

Congratulations to our 2015 MCAP Graduates

On Thursday, September 17th, 2015 a group of young mothers proudly moved the tassels on their graduation caps, marking a huge milestone on their lives: earning GEDs! In 2015, 15 young women passed their GEDs after working with us at Maricopa Center for Adolescent Parents. While not all of the graduates were able to attend the ceremony, the intimate event was a special occasion, full of flowers, tears of joy, cake, and pride. 

Open to young mothers ages 16-21,  MCAP is a comprehensive program providing GED preparation, Parenting Education, and Life Skills program. While students earn their degrees and plan for your future success, MCAP provides free, on-site child care in our licensed, nationally accredited childcare center.

MCAP is the reason many these moms can earn the education they deserve. As one participant put it: "Not many of us have the income or resources to go to an ordinary GED prep class and pay for it. The fact that we’re given free classes and free child care on-site makes me forever grateful. It gives us more of a chance at becoming something great in life. Without free classes and free child care, we would probably be the typical teen mom statistic who is a high school dropout with no job. What MCAP provides makes us want to make everyone proud. It also motivates us to become successful for our children."

Congratulations to the young women who worked so hard this year to graduate! Anna, Jennifer, Gabriella, Melissa, Shavon, Desirae, Naomi, Jennifer, Madison, Shannon, Maria, Marisol, Michelle, Grace, and Olivia!

Maricopa Center for Adolescent Parents is made possible by the generous support of: Arizona Child Abuse Prevention License Plate FundFirst Things First Quality First Child Care Scholarships, Helena Harvey Endowment, Maine Foundation, Rio Salado CollegeThunderbirds CharitiesTJX FoundationValley Anesthesiology Foundation, and WalMart. We would like to thank our generous sponsors who helped make it a special day for our graduates: Wal-Mart - Richard Mart and Phil Barber; Fry’s - Alan King, Dennis Nathan, David Lee, and Charles Shepard; and Safeway - Rick Albers and Marcia Beck. 

Diaper Banks: Changing Lives One Diaper at a Time

Child & Family Resources is proud to partner with the Diaper Bank to provide access to diapers for families in our program. Please enjoy our guest blogger, Claudette Langley, Americorps/VISTA and outreach/marketing coordinator with the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, as she explains the great work of our friends and partners at the Diaper Bank.

By Claudette Langley

Every day somewhere in the America a mother is hoping that her baby’s diaper can last just a little bit longer and an elderly person is deciding to stay home because they don’t’ have a dry incontinence item to take with them. These are the realities that sparked the birth of the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona 20 years ago.

The First Diaper Bank

The first of its kind in the nation, the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona was the brainchild of Hildy Gotlieb and Dimitri Petropolis, partners in a small Tucson-based consulting firm. In 1994, the duo held the first diaper drive and five years later they had collected 300,000 diapers. The organization became a freestanding organization in 2000 and this year expects to distribute more than 800,000 diapers and incontinence products throughout Southern Arizona. In the past 20 years the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona has distributed more than 8.5 million diapers and incontinence items to residents in 10 Arizona counties.

Since the founding of the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, the issue of filling diaper need has become a national movement with diaper banks springing up across the nation, including a National Diaper Bank Network that helps coordinate the joint efforts. Presently there are about 200 diaper banks throughout the United States.

How It Works

There is a variation among the many diaper banks in what supplies they offer. Some provide diapers, formula and clothes, some provide adult items as well as children’s, some are free standing and others are part of larger organizations and are considered a program. However, despite the differences all of them have a mission to eliminate diaper need in their areas. In addition, breaking the cycle of poverty through partnerships with other community agencies is a common thread.

The Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona distributes its supplies through 46 plus partner agencies, including crisis nurseries, child abuse prevention programs, teen parent programs (school and community-based), and senior and immigrant and refugee programs.

Diaper Need

What is diaper need? Put simply it is the lack of adequate diapers and adult incontinence supplies and it strikes with regularity throughout the United States. While it may seem to some to be a fairly innocuous situation with an easy fix, that is just not the case for many Americans are forced to choose between buying these supplies or paying for other basics necessities such as food or a utility bill.  No assistance programs, including WIC (Women, Infants and Children) or SNAP (food stamps) cover the cost of the diapers.

It costs nearly $100 a month to keep one child in an adequate supply of diapers. Presently it is estimated that 30 percent of low-income mothers cannot change their babies’ diaper as often as they’d like. The latest census figures show that 15 percent of Americans live in poverty, in Arizona nearly 19 percent of the families are living at or below poverty levels and here in Tucson the number jumps to 27 percent.

Diaper need’s impacts don’t stop at hard financial choices. Babies are at times left in the same diaper all day as the parents try to conserve and parents report reusing soiled diapers. Both of these practices can lead to severe diaper rash and urinary tract infections.

In addition, diaper need creates mental and emotional hardships for parents. In July 2013, the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics released the study “Diaper Need and Its Impact on Child Health." The study found that a high number of mothers forced to make this type of decision reported suffering from emotional distress and mental health issues.

While lack of diapers can cause immediate health and financial hardships, it also can also produce impacts that are detrimental to the families’ future. Day care centers require and adequate daily supply of disposable diapers, without these parents often have to forego pursuing academic or employment opportunities.

Why not cloth?

Diaper bank’s often hear from well-meaning community members the suggestion that these families use cloth diapers. Using cloth is often not an option for so many of these families living on the hard economic edge. Many do not have a washer or dryer at their homes and most Laundromats won’t allow diapers to be washed in their machines. Many families also rely on public transit, so getting diapers to facility to wash them is daunting

Adults Too

While diapers for infants and children are the majority of supplies provided by diaper banks, there is another segment of the population significantly impacted by need. The elderly and disabled adults too struggle with quality of life issues created by the lack of an adequate supply of incontinence items.

Approximately 20 percent of the supplies provided to the community by the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona are adult supplies. “If you want to find a topic nobody wants to talk about, just say the words “Adult Incontinence” said Bobby Rich of 94.9 MixFM. Rich’s words top the page on the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona’s webpage on adult incontinence. It is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of adults 65 years and older are incontinent

Anyone Can Help

The Diaper Bank movement is truly grass roots, all over the country individuals are making a decision to help meet diaper need and starting diaper banks of their own. Every day somewhere around the nation there is news of a drive by a school, a faith-based organization or a private business.

For more information on diaper banks and how to help visit www.diaperbank.org or http://nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org/.

Corner Office: Arizona Ranks 46th in Child Well-Being

A letter from Eric Schindler, President and CEO 

Do you share my vision of an Arizona where children start kindergarten ready to learn and thrive? That is one of the principal keys to future success. Instead, we have to face the reality, as confirmed by the 2015 annual edition of Kids Count, a national report from a child welfare advocacy organization - Arizona ranks 46th among the states on measures of child well being.  Just two of the many heartbreaking, frightening, and infuriating realities:

One of every four children lives in poverty, worse than before the great recession of 2008-9! 

Fewer than one in every three young children get to go to preschool

These numbers are statewide averages, and are worse for children in minority populations.

CFR’s goal is to be part of the solution.  Let me share a couple of examples of how our organization is working, alone as well along with others, to ultimately reduce childhood poverty and increase economic success.

Why do so few children, particularly disadvantaged ones who could most benefit, take part in early childhood education?  While a bit of an oversimplification, the answer is they can’t afford it.  We have to make it a societal priority to provide opportunities for those who can’t afford it, to benefit from well run early childhood education programs.  It pays for itself and then some by averting downstream costs.  CFR has recognized how crucial it is for us to be more than a prevention and early intervention organization.  We have to be advocates and involved in policy making.  The agency is, and will continue to be, more involved in voter registration, voter engagement, Get out the Vote programs, and political coalitions, among other activities aimed at creating the Arizona we deserve.