Hello, hello! Welcome back to The CASA Chronicles. This month I really want to talk about CASA’s Sweet Case Program. If you don’t know about this program, it surrounds one main goal: NO MORE TRASH BAGS!
As you might be able to imagine, when children are removed from their homes, it’s extremely traumatic. Put yourself in their shoes for a minute: You’re sitting at home. Maybe your parents are downstairs, maybe they’re not even home. Strange people come inside, and they tell you that you have to go with them while handing you a black trash bag. These people say you don’t have much time, so through your tears you shove as much of your stuff into that bag as you possibly can before they put you in their car and drive you to a foster home—a house full of strangers. You’re confused, scared, you miss your parents, and all you have from home is a garbage bag holding your stuff.
NO ONE’S LIFE SHOULD FIT INSIDE. That’s why the Sweet Case Program exists. A Sweet Case is a large blue duffel bag big enough for a child’s belongings, as well as for extra goodies to try to make this ordeal easier and smoother for them.
We order the actual bags from Together We Rise, a Nonprofit Organization for Foster Children. Each bag costs about $6 per bag, and we’re lucky enough to be allowed to purchase these special bags. We receive generous monetary donations to purchase the bags themselves from different organizations and individuals to keep this program going. All of the items inside the bag are donated as well; we rarely have to buy anything to put inside.
So what’s inside the bag? There are a couple different variations depending on gender and age, and we try to make them as personal as possible, but bags typically include:
· Hygiene Items: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, feminine necessities, etc.
· A Blanket
· A “Lovie” like a stuffed animal or a teddy bear
· A Book: a storybook for a younger child or a paperback for a teenager
· A Coloring Book or Journal with crayons or markers and pens
And like I said before, there’s plenty of room for the child’s clothing and personal items from home.
Kids love when they get a Sweet Case just for them; it makes them feel special, and it makes it easier to transition into the foster home. They often ask if the bag is really for them to keep or if they have to share. They mean so much and CASA wants to be able to get the bag to the child at the time they are removed from their home—no waiting and no trash bag. They shouldn’t have to see their stuff—their lives— shoved into a black plastic bag. But, at the moment, we don’t have a working system in place because we aren’t aware of a removal until after it is complete, and the court case is open. Until we can get all the details and kinks worked out, bags are delivered to the kiddos as soon as we can.
The Sweet Case Program is one of the standout programs that CASA implements because it’s something that directly benefits the child almost right away. It’s giving a girl or a boy something to hold that belongs to them—they may have never had a teddy bear or a blanket to themselves. They deserve something that’s theirs, and they deserve self-worth and definitely shouldn’t have their lives fit inside a trash bag.
Until next time,