[July 21, 2020: The Gardener News]
A nonprofit is on a mission to ensure that foster children in the area are adequately prepared to return to school in the fall.
Fostering Change Inc., which is based in Fitchburg, has set up a drop-off location in front of Chair City Oil for anyone wishing to donate school supplies to help the nearly 300 students in foster care across north central Massachusetts.
President Lindsey English, who lived in a foster home in Gardner for four years and graduated from Gardner High School in 1997, said she has first-hand knowledge about how difficult it can sometimes be for students in foster care to obtain the supplies necessary before returning to class each semester.
“Foster kids have a harder time because foster parents get a stipend on a monthly basis to help take care of these kids, and that stipend is meant to help with food, clothing, bills, electricity — the basic stuff people need,” English explained. “They don’t get extra money to help out with going back to school, and anybody with kids that’s gone school supply shopping knows it isn’t cheap.”
Another factor contributing to the issue, according to English, is the fact that most foster families don’t typically qualify for programs that would help lower income students pay for their school supplies.
“Because if a family were eligible for those programs, they wouldn’t be eligible to foster,” she said. “So they’re kind of stuck in a catch 22-situation.” In addition, many foster children are often uprooted from one home and moved to another, and that means things like school supplies are left behind and they need to start all over. “Which is actually what happened to me — I got pulled from my mother and put into a foster home two weeks before my senior year started. So I needed to start school but I had nothing in the way of supplies.”... MORE