Rob Scheer is one of this country's most remarkable #HopeGivers. I discovered him while watching NBC News with Lester Holt. Rob founded an organization called Comfort Cases, backpacks filled with items that will help kids entering the foster care system through the first 24 hours.
As soon as the news piece was over, I knew I had to find Rob Scheer on Facebook. Thirty seconds later, I was following him on social media and learning about his efforts to change the face of foster care in America.
I had no idea that this #InspiringAmerica segment would alter the trajectory of my life. Nor did I know that it would help me change the trajectories of the lives of others--but here we are!
For all the advocacy work I've done for victims of child sexual abuse, domestic violence, and neglect, I had not tapped into the world of foster care. I always stressed how incredibly important it is to REPORT, REPORT, REPORT if we suspect or come by knowledge that a child is being abused or neglected. And it is! Believe me! But what happens after we report? Our jobs are not over! Our responsibility to make the world safe for children is just beginning, and there is much work to be done.
When law enforcement or social services declare a child out of their home, they are often handed a garbage bag to put their belongings in. It is both denigrating and humiliating, and it adds insult to injury in an already traumatic situation. Think of all the children in foster care who are handed a trash bag every time they have to move from home to home to home. We can do better than this.
Rob and his army of volunteers have provided backpacks to almost 70,000 children filled with items that will get a child through the first 24 hours of entering the foster care system and beyond: pajamas, a blanket, a book or coloring book, toiletries, and diapers and wipes for the babies. They have given away almost 26,000 duffel XL's so that kids won't have to suffer the indignity of dragging a trash bag behind them as they attempt to muster the courage to face whatever happens next.
But for as much as this has helped kids all across the country, there is still more to do.
According to iFoster:
* There are almost 440,000 children in foster care.
* 110,000 are waiting to be adopted.
* Approximately 30,000 kids age out of the system every year. Within four years:
~ 70% will be on government assistance.
~ 50% will be unemployed.
~ 50% will experience homelessness.
~ 25% will not have finished high school.
~ Less than 3% will earn a college degree.
Why is this?
Imagine being 18 in your senior year of high school and looking forward to graduation.
What a milestone! Now imagine your foster parents telling you
that you need to make other living arrangements once graduation is over.
Even though there are wonderful foster families who are committed to these children that they have loved for so long and would never turn them away, there are also those who will turn away a young person once the support checks from the state stop coming.
What are these kids supposed to do who have 'aged out' of the system?
Some are taken in by the parents of their friends. Some couch surf. Many are on the streets. Even those who graduate from high school and enter college have nowhere to go during holiday breaks and summers. They are not anchored in a family anymore. They often have little to no support.
When Rob called me to ask if I would consider being a Comfort Cases Ambassador for the state of Idaho, I knew I was meant to join this effort. It is now up to me to get Comfort Cases in all 44 counties in my state and provide Idaho's children with these items that will help them transition into a new place. We need to let them know that we do care about them, that they do matter, and that they are important. I, along with many others on the Comfort Cases team, are conduits of Hope for these precious children.
While Rob works hard making Comfort Cases and duffel XL's sent out across the county, my team of people are on a mission to recruit #HopeGivers who will CLICK ON THIS LINK AND PAY FOR THE SHIPPING!
Be sure to fill out the box: 'INCLUDE A MESSAGE'
and type in:'FOR SHIPPING COSTS'
so that the good folks at Comfort Cases
know how to direct those funds.
You know what else you can think about?
Adopting a child.
Becoming a Foster Family
Being a #HopeGiver.
One more thing before I go: Rob's book,
absolutely changed me.
It is his story of surviving and thriving, rising above his circumstances,
finding love and adopting four beautiful children.
Click on the link and order it.
It will change you too!