In 2018, there were 437,283 children in foster care according to the most recent federal data available on childwelfare.gov.
Pittsburg State student and senior in social work, Julia Rosenberg, is hosting a local supplies drive for hygiene items such as body wash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste and personal supplies like t-shirts, underwear and socks all to be put into backpacks and donated to TFI Family Services, a local child placing agency which will then be distributed to teenage boys entering the foster care system.
Donations and supplies will be collected through Saturday, Nov. 7. Items can be dropped off at the Parsons Diner at 1827 Crawford or at the Auburn pharmacy inside King Cash at 2020 Main St. Other drop off locations and personal pick up available.
Rosenberg has been a foster parent for over 17 years.
“When I heard about our macro project for the social work program, I knew I needed to do something that I was passionate about,” Rosenberg said. “Many times, these boys are shoved to the side as they do not often get adopted or people think it’s because the teen did something to be placed in foster care. It’s never that simple. Most of these young men have had hard lives and usually have had to go through more than the public wants to know.”
Of the 437,283 children in foster care, just over half of them are male at 52 percent.
“I see that the agencies get donations for little kids and teen girls, but not usually teen boys,” Rosenberg said. “With 52% of the kids in custody being male, I feel it is a huge need. I also know first-hand that it is just as important to have things for these young men.”
Entering the foster care system can be a difficult time for children.
“When a kid is removed from their environment, they usually have little to no time to pack,” Rosenberg said. “They have been through an emotional and traumatizing situation… They are removed from the environment they know (and) they do not know where they are going. They do not know if they are going to see their family again or what is going on. No one is telling them anything concrete. They are taken to a strange place with people they don’t know that are trying to help them be comfortable in their new environment. They do not know where anything is, where are the towels, when can they take a shower? When are meals? What about school? What about their siblings? These are all just a tidbit of the information going through their heads. Giving them these bags filled with the basic supplies they need once going to a new home at least answers a few of those questions.”
Students and community members can get involved in other ways through local foster care agencies.
“Get involved with… local agencies,” Rosenberg said. “Maybe they can be that someone that makes a difference in these young men’s lives.”
Rosenberg urges people to make a different in children’s lives.
“I want to encourage people to not judge a book by its cover,” Rosenberg said. “Often these young men have many strengths and talents. But no one has ever stopped to invest a little into them. They often have given up on having anything good. Let’s show them, even if it’s one kid at a time, that they are worthy to receive love.”