Sunday, December 24, 2006

'This Is Not A Suitcase' Campaign


A plastic bag has many uses. You could rake up the leaves in your backyard, and scoop them into a Hefty cinch-sack. You could take out the trash.

But it is inappropriate to utilize plastic garbage bags as suitcases for displaced children.

When children have to change placements or age out of foster care, stuffing their belongings into garbage backs does not accurately reflect the sum total of their worth.

In the United Kingdom, A National Voice charity has organized a national campaign called, "This Is Not A Suitcase."

As part of this campaign, foster youth in the UK staged a catwalk protest on Oct. 27, 2005 and Oct. 23, 2006.

This fashion show is called 'The Refuse Collection,' because all of the outfits were made from garbage bags.



In 2007, Foster Care Associates will support the national campaign by launching an exhibition of artwork made up of hand-painted suitcases, which will tour the UK.

These suitcases have been decorated by foster youth who are preparing to age out of the foster care system. They reflect the inner thoughts and emotions that are part of this transition.

Luke Chapman, FCA coordinator explains, "The dual message represented by the suitcases reflects transition in the life of a young person in the care system and secondly it underlines the respect which should be attributed to the life possessions and memories of that young person."

Youth aging out of foster care often experience feelings of anxiety and loneliness. At the time when they need the most support and guidance, many are left to fend for themselves. Chapman hopes that the exhibit will spark dialogue about how to create additional support systems for emancipated foster youth.

For more information, please visit:
http://www.thisisnotasuitcase.org.uk/
http://www.thefca.co.uk/.

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Comments:
Our county, during our training, made a big deal about trash bags being used as suitcases. And yet, when one of our foster daughters moved out, I asked the caseworker if she had a preference for what sort of suitcase we bought, and she told us that trash bags would be more convenient for her, since they can be squished between the seats of her car.

We ended up buying some drawstring net laundry bags, as I was not going to send a child out of here with her stuff in a garbage bag.

Our 16-year-old's property is still here, packed in neat cardboard boxes, because DSS won't send someone to pick them up. She ran away at the end of August, but her caseworker has refused to take them, even though she's been to the house several times since.

Pretty sad, huh?
 
Foster Abba,

I asked a friend of mine -- who is both a foster parent and a social worker -- for her insights about what you shared with me.

She suggested that, for the caseworker who prefers kids use garbage bags to transport their valuables, some sensitivity training might be in order:

"Perhaps this caseworker could use a garbage bag as a purse for a couple of days and see if she prefers a garbage bag to her purse."

She said she would always try to work it out with the worker first, but if that does not do the trick, then she would go up the chain of command and talk with the case worker's supervisor, that person's supervisor and up, even to the governor, if necessary...

And she wouldn't just mention the preference for garbage bags but also the insensitivity expressed by the caseworker's unwillingness to pick the child’s belongings up from the home.
 
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