NAFI New York recently received 25 duffle bags and 23 supply-filled backpacks for youth in its foster care program from the nonprofit organization Comfort Cases, founded by Rob Scheer, who was given a trash bag to take his belongings to a foster home at the age of 12.
The duffle bags are empty vessels for belongings but the backpacks, also called Comfort Cases, are filled with pajamas, socks, a blanket, a stuffed animal, a hygiene kit, a dental kit, and other age-appropriate supplies, according to the Comfort Cases website. The items NAFI NY received were valued at $1,300 but the agency was only asked to contribute $65 toward the cost of shipping.
“Each Comfort Case is meant to provide comfort and the essentials for a child’s first night in foster care,” the nonprofit’s website explains, noting elsewhere that more than 700 children enter the foster care system each day and most are given a trash bag in which to carry their belongings.
“These children have been neglected and often feel like they don’t matter. Many do not own a toothbrush or have a pair of pajamas,” the website says. “A Comfort Case gives a child entering foster care a sense of dignity and hope. … The gift of these simple items tells a child, you matter.”
After being given a trash bag to pack his belongings for his first foster home at the age of 12, Sheer received a trash bag for his belongings once again when he “aged out” of the foster system at age 18 and became homeless. “Nearly 30 years later when he became a foster parent, his four children arrived at his home with trash bags,” the website says. “He was saddened that nothing had changed. In 2013, Rob’s family and their community founded Comfort Cases and set out on a mission to eliminate trash bags from the foster care system.”
NAFI NY Program Director Angie Falzone suggested reaching out to Comfort Cases in a meeting this summer when a case manager suggested putting together a welcome kit for youth entering the foster program. She had read Scheer’s memoir, “A Forever Family: Fostering Change One Child at a Time,” and Googled Comfort Cases to learn that NAFI could simply order backpacks and duffel bags.
“They ask that organizations contribute to the shipping cost,” Falzone explained, adding of the delivery, “The Comfort Cases were absolutely amazing. I was really impressed with them.”
NAFI also received additional items that were donated to Comfort Cases but went beyond the list of essentials included in the backpacks, including a Barbie doll, headbands, and crayons. “It was really nice and I was really impressed with them,” Falzone said.
NAFI NY is always seeking to recruit foster parents, and in addition to participating in upcoming events, the agency recently partnered with technology provider Binti to launch an online application process.
Prospective foster parents now may simply head to the foster care page on our website and hit the “Apply Here” button to easily begin a process in which both sides determine if foster parenting is a good fit.
NAFI NY provides specialized foster care and therapeutic services to a wide range of youth, including those with mental health and behavioral issues, as part of our wraparound program that relies on specially-trained foster parents to be the foundation of the youth’s treatment team. NAFI New York’s therapeutic foster parents must complete specialized training before being approved, and our therapists and case managers work side-by-side with caregivers to provide individually-tailored support and treatment aligning with NAFI’s philosophy that change happens when individuals are given a voice in their treatment.
We currently have Therapeutic Foster Care homes in Orange, Rockland, and Westchester counties, where we recruit, train, and support a diverse group of foster parents. We welcome single, married, partnered, or cohabitating individuals to become foster parents. NAFI NY proudly supports LGBTQ+ individuals and couples on the journey to become foster parents.
Those seeking more information about the foster parent application and training process may also reach out to Home Finding Supervisor Shawn White by email at ShawnWhite@nafi.com, or by phone at 845-743-4486.
About NAFI New York
NAFI New York’s mission is creating diverse and innovative services for people as a multi-service agency that provides programming, consultation and individualized support services to youth and families in a variety of community-based settings.
The agency was established within the North American Family Institute in 2005 with the ground-breaking Westchester Wraparound program. From there, NAFI NY has grown to be known as a leader in community-based and therapeutic foster care programming for youth and families.
The foundation for all of our diverse services and programs are the common values and beliefs known as the Normative Community Approach. It is not a prescriptive model but rather a culmination of our basic assumptions and beliefs about working with people. It forms a framework for building community and empowering people to find their voice.