An elementary school teacher wakes up one summer morning thinking it’s going to be another ordinary day. She has no idea that her world is about to be turned upside down in a few short hours. Later that evening, she receives a call from Child Protective Services. They are removing two of her students from their parents. She was suggested as someone who would welcome them into her home as a kinship (a relative or close relationship) placement. She and her husband immediately say yes. A short time later, these empty-nest teachers now have a young boy and girl living with them.
The next morning she walks into our BCS Together Closet. The little girl, wearing the only clothing she owns and bedtime slippers. I ask how we can serve her and what she needs. I quickly learn the kids have nothing more than what they are wearing.
BCS Together Closet
These are the children and families we exist to serve. When one of these families, either foster or kinship, gets a call, it’s often unexpected. The children may come with little to nothing. At the BCS Together Closet, they can get many free resources at a moment’s notice. We are fully stocked with toys for all ages, shoes, clothing, diapers, underwear, car seats, pack n’ plays, and many other items. Many families are hesitant to say yes to foster care or being a kinship placement. They are worried about being unprepared. Worried about not having enough support. At BCS Together, we desire to be a resource that these families can turn to. For them to know they are not alone on this journey.
The teacher left that day with two bags filled with clothing, shoes, pajamas, baby dolls, and other toys and activities. She also left knowing that many people in the community want to surround her and her husband. Surround them with meals and other resources as they do the important work of loving these kids. Loving them through the most challenging thing they’ve ever gone through. She also left with a Jesus Storybook Bible, something we give out to every family that comes through our doors. We pray that in the most trying times of their lives, these families will read God’s Word. That they find truth and comfort in the place we know will provide them with the light and life that they need most.
During the pandemic, our local area has seen a 40% increase in foster care removals. We have experienced that as the number of foster and kinship families, Child Protective Service Caseworkers, and CASA volunteers who rely on us as a resource has been higher than ever before.
A local foster family has had four placements. Different genders and ages come through their home week after week over the last month. Each time the kids are different sizes and have different needs. Some have stayed longer. Others have gone back home quickly or to a relative. Each time they call BCS Together. We can provide them with the clothing, diapers, toys, and car seats needed to keep saying yes.
We don’t do any of this alone. The beauty of the BCS Together Closet is that every item given away to these children and families touched by the child welfare system came from generous community members and church families in our local area. Bibles purchased from our Amazon wishlist by a caring individual. Purchased by a person who wants to make a difference for kids in the foster system. Each shirt, pair of shoes, or car seat was generously donated. Donated by someone who may not be in a place to welcome a child into their home but make a huge difference by purchasing items that allow others to continue to say yes to loving these kids.
Something like a car seat may seem like a simple item to purchase. But, to a 60-year-old Grandma who suddenly has three kids under four and lives on a lower income, it’s a crucial item that keeps her grandkids with her and ensures they’re safely transported. The churches and individuals who have come alongside BCS Together to keep our Closet well stocked are helping from prevention to permanency. They are serving families who CPS is working to support to prevent the kids from going into foster care. Kinship placements who receive kids unexpectedly. Foster families who have no idea what age, gender, or the number of kids may walk through their door any given day.
Eager to Help
We have found that awareness has so much power. There are many people and churches who are so eager to help. Since January, 250 children have been served through the BCS Together Closet with the beauty of collaboration and community involvement. As so many people have said yes to doing their important and different parts, we’ve seen that there can be more than enough for kids and families in our community by working together.