Friends of Children launched Foster Dignity in an effort to partner with the community in our ongoing quest to support children experiencing life in the foster care system.
Through our advocacy work, we recognized that children are often removed from their homes on an emergency basis, with only a few of their belongings thrown into a trash bag. For children who have lost so much, this insensitive measure left them feeling tossed aside; it was not an acceptable metaphor to us.
Foster Dignity embraces the concept that foster children need extra care to level the playing field and improve their opportunities for success. It’s hard explaining to new kids at school that you didn’t move to town with your family or to a teacher that it’s not that you forgot your backpack, it’s that you don’t have one.
Leveling the field can be as a simple as having a new backpack for school filled with educational necessities. Or, it can mean having your own book to keep or a treasured stuffed animal to cuddle while transitioning to a new placement. Foster Dignity provides what some of us take for granted – personal hygiene items such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, new and weather-appropriate clothing, holiday gifts and so much more.
Providing these items has offered the community a joyful way to connect with children. Foster Dignity has been the recipient of goodwill from many individuals and corporations – from a senior citizen filling one backpack at a time, to a troop of Girl Scouts filling 100 backpacks with handmade goodies; from Land’s End donating 1,000 duffel bags, to faith-based communities buying essentials for every age group.
Since its inception, Foster Dignity has given more than 3,500 foster children across western Massachusetts this measure of respect. Our efforts expanded six years ago to include raising funds to support a broad range of needs for foster youth. We can now offer help with such things as athletic fees and equipment, apartment essentials for young people who age out of foster care and money for school trips. Foster Dignity does whatever it takes to make children feel like a part of their community.
What People are Saying About Foster Dignity
“You’ve helped me more than you know. I feel like a person who is seen and heard. Before, I was a statistic. In fact, I started to feel like a statistic. I was always looking for someone to take care of me. Now, I’m focused on my future in ways that I believe in. I trust myself and believe in myself. And trust me – I’m going to help other kids know they aren’t alone.”
19 year old Friends of Children youth
“Thank you so much for the new backpacks. We gave them to four brothers and sisters who had just been interviewed about their abuse by their parents. Each of them took out their blankets and stuffed animals and just curled up with them in the car. What a help to these little kids who needed some measure of comfort after a grueling day and on their way to a foster home.”
Employee, the Child Abuse Unit at the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office
“You should’ve seen the smile on his face when I told him he could take Driver’s Ed! Thanks for making this happen. He’s such a good kid, and this really made both of our days!”
Employee, Department of Children and Families
“Thanks for the chance to learn more about kids who need help here. I love being able to help needy kids without their knowing who helped. It feels like such a good community thing to do…take care of our children.”
Volunteer, Foster Dignity
“There would be no way I could stay in college without Foster Dignity. It’s been a lifesaver. I hope I can teach my daughter how important education is.”
Young single parent and former foster child