The Delaware Valley is gearing up for back-to-school. Retail stores advertise the latest back-to-school fashion trends and upcoming sales. Big box stores like Wal-Mart, Target and Staples inundate the television, radio, newspaper and internet with eye-catching ads for back-to-school supplies. Preparing a child for the start of the school year isn’t cheap. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2013 Back-to-School Survey, families with school-age children will spend an average of $634.78 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics. For more than 3000 children who enter out-of-home care in Philadelphia each year, adequately preparing for “back-to-school” can be a troublesome hurdle to overcome.
Lutheran Children and Family Service (LCFS,) a division of Liberty Lutheran, believes every child deserves to be raised in a permanent, loving, safe, and nurturing home. Foster care is a temporary service offered to children who have been abused, neglected, or whose birth families are unable to provide them with the care they need. Currently, LCFS serves 215 children in foster care in the Philadelphia area, from less than a year old to age 20. Approximately 80% of them are of school-age. Peter Gottemoller, Director of Child Welfare Programs for LCFS, says the reimbursements that foster parents get are set by the city and do not adequately cover the expenses incurred for caring for the children in their guardianship.
“Right now foster parents are hitting the sales, wherever they can find them,” Gottemoller explained. “Our staff is working with them to prepare the children for the start of school, but any help the public can provide makes it a lot easier for them.”
Gottemoller says the pressures on foster parents are enormous, as they are managing tight budgets and juggling the demands of everyday life, including things such as taking foster children to camp and doctor’s appointments, as well as visits to their birth parents. When kids get to 4th, 5th, 6th grade and older, they become more and more aware of the importance of being prepared for back-to-school and that can be source of anxiety for children in the foster care system, he said. Additionally, many foster families are also dealing with school closures in the Philadelphia school district, which means children who are living with a new family, in a new neighborhood, also have to get adjusted to a new school and making new friends.
Lutheran Children and Family Service and Liberty Lutheran are inviting you to join us in a “Back to School” campaign by contributing $25 to LCFS for a backpack and supplies for children in foster care.
- Book bag
- Single Subject Notebook
- #2 Pencils
- Pencil Case
- Box of Crayons
- Glue Stick
- Manual Pencil Sharpener
- Red Pen
- Box of Tissues
- Disinfectant Wipes
As the most vulnerable children in our area, they rely on the support, resources and love provided by their foster care parents and our community.
“These things are very helpful,” Gottemoller said. “It gives children peace of mind going into the school year and takes some burden off the dedicated men and women who are caring for them.”