“I am an emergency foster parent for DCF. I have been doing emergency foster care for about 9 years, and over the years I have had 290+ kids placed with me for a night or weekend, to keep them safe during emergencies and until everyone goes to court to sort things out the next business day. I live in Roxbury, so the majority of kids who come to me are from Boston. A lot of the kids who are placed with me get screened first at Boston Medical Center. Whenever they come from BMC, they always arrive with their Pieces of Home backpacks.
It's such a HUGE help for me, so that I am not rifling through my 12 year old son's outgrown clothes at 2 am in the attic, looking for a size 5 pair of PJ's. The kids LOVE the backpacks - it is the only thing they typically bring with them that belongs to THEM. I always know when they come from BMC because the staff there take the extra time to get them a coat or a hat, a teddy bear, anything to help them feel less anxious.
I have had kids come who are still coughing and sneezing soot after a fire…they were rescued by neighbors after being left home alone. I have had kids arrive in the middle of the winter wearing nothing but a diaper and wrapped in a blanket from the ambulance. They never seem to have shoes or coats on when they are removed in an emergency.
Another great thing about the backpacks is that people at BMC take the time to really match sizes, gender and interest. For example, I had a 3 year-old boy once who was obsessed with Spider-Man. He arrived with a Spider-Man backpack, Spider-Man pajamas, a Spider-Man tee shirt and underwear, and a Spider-Man toy. He was so happy and he didn't put the back down all weekend. I had another 7 year-old girl who got some soaps and shampoos, etc. in a pretty travel bag, and she loved it so much that she carried it around the entire Brockton Fair with her. She didn't want to leave it in the car and risk losing it - it was all she had that was hers. She did let me hold it for her while she went on the rides, but she otherwise never put it down.”
Suzanne, Hotline Foster Mom