Remember those first days of school every year? When you couldn’t wait to show off your new clothes and shoes, see your friends – and maybe even learn a thing or two?
Those of us who grew up in stable families fortunate to be able to remember our school years in terms of new clothes, old and new friends, and trying out the latest trends in school supplies.
For too many of our area’s foster children, though, school is just another source of stress. First because they’ve already had their entire lives uprooted and they might be starting over at a brand new school – or the second, third, or even fourth new school, sometimes within the same year!
But school can also be very stressful for foster children and teens because their foster families just can’t afford the clothing, shoes, and supplies to help them fit in with their peers.
Imagine facing the first weeks of school (or first weeks in a new school) in ill-fitting or inappropriate clothes, shoes that may be too big or too small, and without any of the supplies the other kids have – on top of dealing with the trauma of past abuse or neglect and getting used to the latest in a string of new foster families.
Sadly, this situation isn’t imaginary. According to the January 2014 “Fostering Success in Education: National Factsheet on the Education of Children in Foster Care:”
- The average number of living arrangements during a child or teen’s first foster care stay is 2.8. In other words, they’ve been moved almost four times (including separation from their birth families).
- Thirty-four percent of foster teens have experienced five or more school changes.
- Michigan’s foster care system only gives foster families $214 per year for clothing for each infant – twelve year old and only $244 for each 13-21 year old child in their care.
(Granted, not even every stable family is able to send their children to school in the latest and greatest fashions. However, what such families lack in finances can be more than made up for by providing their children with a permanent, loving home.)
As a result of the instability in foster children’s home and school lives:
- They’re twice as likely to be absent from school.
- Older foster youth (ages 17 and 18) are twice as likely to be suspended and three times as likely to be expelled as other children.
- Only fifty percent of foster children complete high school by the time they’re eighteen; only twenty percent attend college, and only two-nine percent graduate from college with a degree.
You Can Make a Huge Impact on a Student in Foster Care – and It’s Easy!
If you’re not ready or able to adopt a child or teen from foster care, you can still give them one of the things they crave most: the ability to look just like any other kid, at least while they’re in school.
How? By making a donation of (new/nearly-new) clothing, shoes, school supplies, and/or money to For The Seventh Generation’s 2nd Annual School Clothing & Uniform Drive for Foster Children & Teens!
The name is long, but the concept is simple:
- Donate those clothes your own child or teen didn’t wear last year;
- Purchase & donate new clothing, shoes, and/or school supplies for a foster child or teen while shopping for your own students;
- Make a monetary donation that we will use on your behalf, particularly to fill requests for school uniforms as they come in.
Want to give, but don’t live near our Help Closet in Detroit? Not a problem!
Kids Planet Resale in Downtown Royal Oak has a drop box just for you, OR
Novi’s Main Street League is including “our” kids as recipients in their own back to school drive, which will be held from 6-8 pm on Thursday, September 25th at the Silver Springs Elementary School Cafeteria.
Contact Shirley Roseman, our fabulous Help Closet Coordinator, to arrange a pickup: firstname.lastname@example.org
None of us can save every Detroit-area child from the hardships and challenges of foster care, but every single one of us CAN help change the life of at least ONE child or teen in care. What small miracle will you make happen today?