Local church helps kids who aged out of CPS

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Jackson Nyago and Nick Cuprisin are thankful for the Phoenix Dream Center. By Jennifer Thomas Jackson Nyago and Nick Cuprisin are thankful for the Phoenix Dream Center. By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- When children get too old for foster care they are forced to fend for themselves with no family support.

The state does offer some support services, but it’s never enough and there is no substitute for family. That's why Phoenix First Assembly of God is stepping up and already changing lives.
 
“I don't know why but every time I pick up my guitar and start playing it's like I'm not even in the world,” Jackson Nyago said.
 
Nyago, who has outgrown foster care, has found salvation in his music and the ministry of the Phoenix Dream Center.
 
“I'd be homeless," he said. "I had nowhere else to go. It's why I'm thankful to be here.”
 
Right now there are more than 11,000 kids in Child Protective Services’ care and some 700 who are over 18 but still receiving support services. Still those services don't include shelter for the more than 600 kids who every year turn 18 and more or less outgrow CPS.
 
“Right before I was turning 18 I was actually getting bad anxiety attacks, just freaking out because I didn't know what to do anymore,” said Nick Cuprisin.
 
He went into foster care at age 16 and from there to a group home, to homeless.
 
“I knew one way to get money, which was to sell drugs and rob people,” he said.
 
Thankfully Cuprisin, like Nyago, was led to the Phoenix Dream Center where he got clean and the love and support so many take for granted.
 
“For people thrown out there without family to teach you how to get your family together what do we have? Nothing,” Cuprisin said. “People loving people they don't even know changed my life.”
 
It's part of Phoenix First Assembly of God's mission to educate and support these young adults and to provide the very basic of needs.
 
“Basic needs you and I take for granted we’re trying to give them,” said Angel Bishop with Phoenix First. “It’s a suitcase to carry their stuff with towels, sheets, blankets, toiletries, things you and I wouldn’t think twice about, but they really need when out on their own.”
 
And the idea is not only to help these young men but to reach all 600 teens that outgrow CPS each
year.
 
“When you grow up in the foster care system you learn how to survive, they are survivors but we want to help them thrive,” Bishop said.
 
Still CPS wants all people who were in foster care to know that no matter what their status is now, they remain eligible for health benefits, a monthly stipend and support services up to age 21.
 
Phoenix First Assembly of God will be collecting suitcases and life's necessities year-round. Since this is their first year they are making a big push this month. You can drop off suitcases, toiletries and/or gift cards at the church at 13613 N. Cave Creek Road in Phoenix or you can call 602-867-7117.

www.phxdreamcenter.org
www.phoenixfirst.org