A newborn discharged from the hospital into foster care with nothing, not even diapers or formula. A 6-month-old dropped off at a foster home wearing a party dress two sizes too big because it was the only clothing option her CPS caseworker could find. A 4-year-old desperate for distraction, and comfort, after being taken into foster care on the worst night of his life.
As foster parents and advocates for children in the system, these aren’t just stories we’ve heard. These are stories we’ve lived when Austin-area kids have arrived at our doorsteps with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Even when children who are entering the foster care system are allowed to bring along items from home, typically those items have been hastily shoved in a trash bag, years of memories reduced to a container best used for last night’s leftovers.
More than 17,000 children are removed from their homes by CPS in the state of Texas every year.
We want better for them. We consulted with local foster care agencies and CPS, and we came up with the idea for Hope Packs — backpacks, diaper bags or duffel bags filled with items that children who are entering the system need most. The item lists for Hope Packs feature a mix of necessities, such as formula, diapers and wipes, and comfort items, such as stuffed animals, jammies, nightlights and coloring books, intended to ease the transition for kids who are coming into care. After we receive completed packs, we distribute them to foster care agencies and CPS caseworkers who can take them along when they’re placing children in new homes.
During our first drive in June, we collected more than 130 Hope Packs for children in the Austin area. They immediately went to good use.
“Just placed a 10-day-old baby girl. She came with absolutely nothing (not even formula) and one of the diaper bags you guys donated was a lifesaver for her and the foster family!” a caseworker from one of the foster care agencies we worked with wrote after the drive. “Thank you and all the donors so much for your hard work — you are meeting a huge need!”
Carrying Hope is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Our goal is for every child in the Central Texas area to receive a Hope Pack when they enter the foster care system. And we could use your help. We hope you will look over our website and get in touch if you’d like contribute in any way. Thank you so much!