In 2018, there were an estimated 437,283 children in foster care according to childwelfare.gov. Additionally, in 2018, 262,956 children entered the foster care system.
Ceceily Ford, senior in social work, is familiar with the foster care system.
“My youngest brother was adopted in 2017,” Ford said. “Although he was placed in my family’s home at only five days old and never saw the effects of jumping foster homes, I saw a glimpse of the foster care system and how stressful it can be on a child. After his adoption, I changed my major to social work and have had a drive for making a change for these children since then! It is something my family now values and what I have shaped my career around. So little help will mean so much to these kids, and I thrive on being a part of that for each of them.”
Ford has put together a donation drive to help teenagers aging out of the foster care system at TFI Family Services.
“As moving out onto your own is a stressful situation anyway, I thought about how much more stress a lack of resources and family would add to that,” Ford said. “These teens never found a place to call ‘home’ and never got to establish a family. As a college student myself, I remember moving into the dorms and getting all the supplies I needed with the help of my parents. Some of the teens will go off to college while others go into the workforce, but I wanted to help make their transition easier and help get them off on the right foot.”
There are drop boxes at Faith Lutheran Church, room 412 of Russ Hall, and room 118 of Whitesitt Hall. Items to donate can range from laundry detergent to cleaning supplies to towels. Ford is also accepting monetary donations via Venmo (@Ceceily-Ford).
“Tangible items are great to have,” Ford said. “…The staff at TFI and I decided to leave it kind of open on what we are accepting. Since everyone at some point in their life has moved out on their own, there may be some items you might think ‘I wish I had this when I moved out,’ and we would love to have those too. Each teen will have different goals and different needs so we will literally take whatever we can.”
Donations will be accepted through Monday, Apr. 19.
“I was placed at TFI my first semester into the Social Work program and loved everything they did to help children and families,” Ford said. “Since then, I have kept TFI close to my heart. When I was asked to choose an agency to benefit from this project, I immediately thought of and reached out to TFI. The directors there were the ones who said their teenagers aging out needed some supplies, so that was the birth of this drive, and I loved the idea of helping people close to my age who have gone through so much already.”
Transitioning into independent living can seem overwhelming and Ford hopes to make the change easier on young adults.
“As these young adults have never established a home or family, their resources are very limited,” Ford said. “Buying common things needed to live on your own can add up quickly, and most of these teens have nothing. Financial stress can be overwhelming and I believe any relief of that makes a huge difference.”
More information about TFI Family Services can be found online (https://tfifamily.org).
“…I was placed in the agency early in my social work studies and loved the staff and what they did for children and families,” Ford said. “They were great people to watch and learn from and invested in their caseloads in an inspiring way. I learned so much from them, and I have kept in contact with the staff there ever since. They were the first agency I wanted to give back to.”