Jessie's Closet helps in Three Ways . . .
1. Clothing for Foster Children
Our primary mission is to provide clothing for foster children. Child Protective Services personnel often have the difficult task of removing a child from his or her home, which is often a chaotic and messy situation. Many times, children have been subjected to conditions which include the presence of lice or bed bugs, or where there has been no personal hygiene or laundering of clothing. Sometimes situations are so severe that CPS workers must find an outfit just to safely transport the child to another location.
Other times, the clothing that a child owns is worn or over/under-sized. And of course, when you must pull a child from a situation in an emergency, there is not time to adequately pack and inspect clothing, toys, or other items.
Regardless of the reason, most children come into foster care with little or no clothing. In these tough financial times, the state is only able to provide a small emergency clothing allowance to foster parents - a mere $75 - to help equip the child for a successful transition. Further, the ongoing clothing allowance varies from $.53 to $1.02 per day to replace or add more clothing. If you think about just a pair of shoes, it would take about two months to save for a new pair for a foster child at the current rates.
Jessie's Closet seeks to help resource foster children and their foster parents by offering a "store" filled with new and very gently used clothing that can be purchased for just a $1 donation per item. That would leave the state-provided funds for the foster parent to purchase items not available in our closet.
2. MyBags, a Resource Especially for New Foster Kids
When a child comes into care, it could be literally at any time of the day or night. Imagine the child who is taken to a new home in the middle of the night, but has nothing to take care of their personal needs. Maybe there is no toothbrush available or the soap that is already in the home is intended for adults. Perhaps the child has been having nighttime bedwetting accidents and needs pull-ups, but none are in the home. It could mean a midnight trip to the store that simply adds to the chaos, when what is most needed is the comfort and security of the foster parent.
MyBags are fabric bags that contain some of the essential personal-care items that a child might need within the first 48 hours of coming into care. These essentials include shampoo, body wash, toothbrush and toothpaste, and more; and each MyBag includes a personal comfort item, like a plush toy or coloring book.
Jessie's Closet volunteers will make MyBags available anytime of the day and night - delivery included. That way, the foster parent can concentrate on the child's comfort, without needing to tend to the urgent logistics of care.
3. Foster Care Festivals, a Place for Foster Families to Unite and Share
Our festivals are intended to bring foster families together so that the children affected by this issue can meet and play with other children who are experiencing the same situations. Everywhere else they go, there is something different about them because they have a different last name, look different from their foster family, have different appointments than other kids, and go to schools where they haven't attended before. If they can see others who are in the same situation, they can know they are not alone. These opportunities also allow foster parents to share resources, ideas, and opinions that may help support and help their family.
A typical festival will look a lot like a big party: games, bounce-houses, lots of food and candy, and plenty more to do! For our upcoming grand opening festival, we expect to have water games and projects for the kids to do (sponsored by local businesses). We also have invited local foster care licensing agencies to set up booths, CPS representatives to provide information, and much more. Jessie's Closet anticipates having all of the costs of these events covered by donors so that there will never be any cost to the foster families to participate. (Additionally, foster families can bring biological or adopted children to these events along with the foster children.)
By the way, there is a significant shortage of Foster Parents!
If we could wave a magic wand and suddenly have fifty (50) new foster homes in Yuma County today, ready and willing to take on children, the need still would not be met. Many of the children from our county are sent to other counties, often to group homes. Becoming a foster parent is one of the most rewarding life-decisions that you could ever make.
- Can be single or married
- Can have children of their own or no children at all
- Can rent or own their residence
- Can live in an apartment, condo, or townhouse
- Can have a say in the age and gender of children they are willing to accept
- Can work (Foster children automatically qualify for DES Daycare Assistance, up to the maximum)
- Can sometimes retain contact with a foster child after he or she leaves the foster home
- Participate actively in the healing process of the children in their care, as well as their families
There are outstanding agencies here in the Yuma area ready to help you explore the process and possibilities! Please do not hesitate to contact us for information about how to connect with an agency.
YOU CAN PARTNER WITH US! Please help by providing a donation today!
Jessie's Closet is located on the second floor of Desert Grace Community Church of the Nazarene in the Foothills. Donations can be dropped off at the church office, 12134 N. Frontage Rd., Yuma, AZ 85367. For information, call (928) 305-1132 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.