Foster children often arrive with a plastic trash bag of clothing, confused and scared. They stay for a week–and that week may become a year. What does it say to them about their worth, that the few things they own are kept in the same bags used to take out the trash?
Beyond the meager belongings gathered quickly in a fraught situation, foster kids often appear at the door with emotional and psychological anguish. Foster families are meant to provide loving arms, physically safe homes, warm meals, and emotional support–to help young people in foster care begin healing.
But helping a child heal also includes helping them feel “normal,” doing and having things that other kids have. New shoes that fit for the first day of school. Soccer practice. Supplies to complete a school project. Driver’s ed. To many of us this is “nothing special,” but to kids in foster care, tangibles and opportunities that make them feel less “other” can give them the hope that life can be OK.
For all kids, tangibles and opportunities do not eliminate emotional and psychological needs–but they do provide simple day-to-day support that helps young people move through the world with dignity. Dignity says: “I am worth something.”
Foster Dignity–Because All Children Deserve Dignity
Foster Dignity was launched 15 years ago by Northampton foster parents to nine children who had first-hand experience with kids who arrived with their belongings in a trash bag. Friends of Children was later approached to continue this work, and we have expanded the program to include children, youth, and young adults aging out of foster care.
Foster Dignity teams with individuals and organizations to provide:
- New backpacks filled with school supplies so that children and teens can walk in that first day just like everyone else;
- New duffle bags with a “lovey” that is all theirs;
- Gift cards to buy clothing and other necessities;
- Monies so that children and youth can join sports leagues and summer programs just like their peers;
- Monies to cover driver’s education and license fees;
- Monies to cover co-pays for much-needed therapy for young adults;
- Donation of needed new cooking items (pots, pans, spices, etc) so that our young adults can take a cooking class as part of our FOCUS program;
- And so much more…..
At the heart of Foster Dignity is the belief that children’s basic needs should be met and that the right resources can help level the playing field. Children in child welfare, who are inherently vulnerable, need and deserve connections to tangible resources and opportunities to experience things that enhance life and well-being. Sports, dance classes, music lessons, after-school and summer programs should not be out-of-reach for our foster kids. These opportunities improve their chances for a life of well-being and success.
Friends of Children has supported more than 7,000 children through Foster Dignity, with an average of 700 children, youth, and young adults receiving support each year. And there are so many more out there who need us.
And you can help.
Friends of Children has many ways that you can make a difference.
- Sign up for our Backpack Program
- Supporting activities for foster children by donating to Kathie’s Fund
- See other opportunities to donate
- Or contact our Development Director, Susan Swift, directly
Because all children deserve to walk in this world with dignity.