A social worker knocks on the door of a reservation home late in the evening. Inside, the parents have been overwhelmed by unrelenting poverty and isolation, and their children must be placed in a safer situation.
Whatever the little ones have in the way of clothing and personal items is quickly tossed into a reservation suitcase the simple plastic trash bag that so often accompanies foster children in Indian Country.
|A “care package” from NAA |
often elicits the question,
“ Do I have to give it back?”
from an incredulous foster child
(NAA staff member's daughter
pictured in order to protect
identity of foster children).
This gut-wrenching scenario can play out several times a week on large reservations. When it does Native American Aid is there to help, thanks to the input of local volunteers.
The primary requirement for emergency foster care is that the family must have a bed for each child. But in communities so poor that two dozen people may share each two-room bungalow, an extra bed is often an unimaginable luxury. How can I help?
Local Program Partners told NAA that inflatable air mattresses would be a big help for children in emergency foster placements. So would blankets, clothing, diapers, formula, and toiletries. Perhaps it would be possible to get real suitcases, and maybe just maybe some comforting teddy bears.
With the help of corporate donors, gift-in-kind charities, and generous people like you, NAA’s Emergency Care program was born. No price can be placed on the feeling of warmth and welcome that these gifts bring to a frightened and lonely child.
|The most-needed items for infants and children |
in crisis include diapers, formula, blankets,
clothing, and bath supplies.
Teresa, one of the caring social services staffers on the Rosebud Reservation, reported that the suitcase program has a remarkable impact on uprooted children. The kids really love the suitcases and the items that we send to package up and put inside of the suitcases. One kid was so excited he wanted to sleep with his new suitcase and couldn’t believe it was his to keep. The kids get real excited to have something of their own and ask over and over, Is it really mine?’
NAA is striving to expand this program to help children in crisis on all Indian reservations of the Northern Plains states.