Giving and Leading: Florence Crittenton

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For over a century, the Florence Crittenton organization has served at-risk girls from ages 10 to 21 with issues such as neglect, abuse and teen pregnancy. Kellie Warren, CEO of Florence Crittenton of Arizona, will tell us more about her organization and an upcoming luncheon being held.

TED SIMONS: Tonight's edition of Arizona giving and leading focuses on Florence Crittenton, an organization that has helped at risk girls for over a century. Kellie Warren is CEO of Florence Crittenton of Arizona. Good to see you.

KELLIE WARREN: Thank you for having me.

TED SIMONS: Good to have you here. Give me a more expanded definition of Florence Crittenton of Arizona.

KELLIE WARREN: Our mission is around providing safety, hope and opportunity to every girl whose life we touch. We are the second oldest social service agency. We have been around over 119 years.

TED SIMONS: Who was Florence Crittenton?

KELLIE WARREN: So Charles Crittenton is our founder and Florence was his daughter. She passed away at age four from a childhood illness. He went around the country opening Crittenton homes for the lost and fallen women and girls.

TED SIMONS: From what I read it sounds like the organization first served unwed mothers and expanded from there?

KELLIE WARREN: I would say we continue to evolve but we were most known in this state for a place for unwed mothers when there was a lot of stigma associated with being with child and no husband. So women would travel all over the country to find a place to have their child secretly, put it up for adoption and go back to their respective homes.

TED SIMONS: How times have changed.

KELLIE WARREN: Yes. Yes.

TED SIMONS: As far as Florence Crittenton's mission now.

KELLIE WARREN: We're ever evolving. As the voice of girls changes and young women so does our focus. So we went from providing just a place for unwed mothers to now a full complement of services. We provide group home services as an example on our main campus girls as young as age to age live with us on campus and receive extensive holistic care including individual group and family therapy, substance abuse treatment as an example.

TED SIMONS: Counseling, medical services.

KELLIE WARREN: Yes.

TED SIMONS: What about education?

KELLIE WARREN: Education is vital for our girls. The girls in the residential program as an example have oftentimes been behind in education. Sometimes not being educated for two, three years. So our goal is to reintroduce them to education, get them to feel excited about it and understand the importance of education when it looks like their life's journey.

TED SIMONS: Is there also a girl's ranch?

KELLIE WARREN: The girl's ranch is for girls ages to 18. They live in Scottsdale or our Phoenix location. They are pregnant, parenting or non-parenting. The best part of that program, their children can reside with them.

TED SIMONS: Interesting.

KELLIE WARREN: So they receive life skills, self-sufficiency and parenting. We're trying to break some terrible cycles that they have been exposed to and make them good parents. And provide a safe place for them to reside with their children.

TED SIMONS: Prenatal care included.

KELLIE WARREN: Everything related to being a great mother.

TED SIMONS: I would think that parenting skills would be a-number one in a situation like this.

KELLIE WARREN: I think you repeat the pattern, you know. You learn from your example. So we're trying to disrupt some of those cycles of neglect, abuse, and expose them to being great parents. Spend time with them on how to be a healthy parent. How to set a good example for their children.

TED SIMONS: I know some of the older girls are involved in a transitional living project you have here. Talk about that.

KELLIE WARREN: We have expanded our transitional living program now. That's another example of us really staying close to the pulse of the community. We have permanent supportive housing where they transition out of foster care or could be on their way to becoming homeless. These young women ages 17.5 to have an opportunity to receive safe, affordable housing and access to services. We have a wonderful partnership with the regional behavioral health authority in the state to girls with mental illness instead of homeless on their own have a safe place to receive support and services.

TED SIMONS: Things like managing money, job training skills, these sorts of things, would that be part of it?

KELLIE WARREN: Most definitely, yes. We expose them to life skills. Self-sufficiency. A lot of things on budgeting, how to apply for a job, how to dress for a job. Interviewing techniques and the like. Everything that really helps them transition into that adult. Turning alone doesn't mean you know everything to be on your own. A lot of girls unfortunately don't have families to support them so we become that surrogate family.

TED SIMONS: How does Florence Crittenton get involved with a particular girl? Does the girl go to them? Do foster families go to them? How does that work? Do you find them on the --

KELLIE WARREN: Numerous ways. We today gives me an opportunity to share with the community what the agency is about today. So sometimes we get calls. Or sometimes people visit our website after other people talk about us. We have several contracts. We get a lot of girls from the child welfare system, juvenile justice system, behavioral health systems, the tribes. So there's oftentimes parents just seeking support for their children or there may be foster families that are just perplexed, what do I do? What kind of services are out there? We try to meet the family and the child where she is at and provide those comprehensive services that I mentioned.

TED SIMONS: Do you go to homeless shelters and see girls and say you would be perfect for this?

KELLIE WARREN: We certainly could. We have a community based services program. Our case specialists are mobile. They go to wherever the young person resides and provides that life skill, self-sufficiency and behavioral health services.

TED SIMONS: Teaming up for girls' luncheon coming up. Has it already happened?

KELLIE WARREN: March at the Arizona Biltmore starting at a.m. It's our signature luncheon and fund-raiser. So because we provide such a comprehensive array of services every single year we have to fund raise. This event attracts close to 800 people who are supportive of Florence Crittenton and they come help raise funds.

TED SIMONS: As far as the website is concerned if someone is watching now saying, I know someone who might be helped by this, where do they go?

KELLIE WARREN: Flocrit.org. Everything you need to know about this great organization is right there on our website.

TED SIMONS: How long have you been involved with the organization?

KELLIE WARREN: I have been involved for five years. I feel so purpose driven. I'm so grateful to be a part of this great organization. I get the fortunate opportunity to see life being changed every day. I tell the girls they do more for me than I could ever do for them.

TED SIMONS: The fund-raiser is March 10?

KELLIE WARREN: Yes. Next Thursday.

TED SIMONS: Flocrit.org.

KELLIE WARREN: Still tickets are for sale, opportunities to be an incredible sponsor.

TED SIMONS: Good to have you here.

KELLIE WARREN: Thank you.

TED SIMONS: Wednesday we'll update efforts to expand a school voucher program in our look at the state legislature. The director of the Phoenix chorale joins us to talk about the group's recent Grammy award. That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you for joining us. You have a great evening.

VIDEO: "Arizona Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Arizona PBS. Members of your PBS station. Thank you.

Kellie Warren: CEO of Florence Crittenton of Arizona

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