When a child is removed from their home due to abuse and neglect, they are picked up by an adult they’ve never met, told to pack a few things and are given a trash bag to put those precious items in. They usually have no more than 20 minutes and then are put into the backseat of a state car and taken to their first foster home.
For the first year a child is in foster care, they move an average of 9 times per year. That is 9 different times an adult comes to the home and moves them to another home, another bed, another set of rules, another school. If they reside in foster care for 1 year, the likelihood they’ll spend a 2nd year in care increases substantially; a 2nd year of moves, of uncertainty and stranger’s homes. With each move fewer items are being packed because in all the moves, items have been lost, taken away or stolen. This is Chloe’s experience, 17 moves in 22 months.
Chloe arrives at Boys & Girls Aid with very few personal items. When I see her she looks worn down, tired, and her eyes are empty. In the lobby I over hear another introduction for Chloe and she goes with a new clinician and later will go to our Seneca House, a residential home for girls. When I see Chloe leave our agency for Seneca, she has a duffle bag that I know is filled with new and clean clothes, some personal hygiene items, a journal and note cards. And under her arm, a new teddy bear.
Chloe will stay with us for 90 days, a lifetime for a child in foster care. She will have her own bedroom, which she reports is the first time she has ever slept alone, this makes her very nervous. Chloe is 11 and over the next 90 days we will work with her through her grief and loss and trauma. We will asses what Chloe’s needs are and I know we will watch her eyes come to life again.
Boys & Girls Aid serve more than 100 Chloe’s a year. They reside in a convent we purchased and renovated; we named it Seneca and is one of the coolest buildings I’ve seen.
President and CEO Boys & Girls Aid
This week we are collecting hygiene and fun items for the girls in foster care. All items must be new and can be dropped at the box, in the red wagon:
Hair ties and headbands
Bangles and bracelets
Shampoo and conditioner (normal sized, NOT Costco – they have shower caddy’s and these huge shampoos are tough to carry)
Make-up (nothing crazy please)
Nail polish and polish remover
Caddy’s from the dollar store
Learn more about Boys & Girls Aid and read more stories here.