Northland woman collecting luggage for foster children, advocates say need is there

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas City, Missouri woman is paying it forward for foster kids and she needs your help. Over the next month she is collecting luggage for foster children.

Ruby Wells said she understands the importance of having a suitcase of your own.

A suitcase can hold a lot of things. However, for some foster children it holds all of their belongings. Many foster children don’t have luggage despite sometimes moving from home to home. Typically if a foster child does not have luggage their belongings are moved in trash bags.

“It makes me very sad, and I would like to help in the ways that I can,” Wells said.

She spent time in care as a child herself. Wells’ mother passed away and she was placed in a group home for a time. Her grandmother would pick her up on the weekends while the court system settled her case.

“I never had clean clothing or a pink suitcase that was my own and she would show up with this suitcase and I knew everything was going to be OK for at least the weekend,” Wells said.

Now she is collecting them for kids in care herself. She says she only has thirteen so far but would like to get some more. She posted about it on Facebook and Nextdoor and plans to donate them to Children’s Division.

Natalie Julien, the president and CEO for CASA of Johnson and Wyandotte Counties says due to the pandemic, court times are lengthening some kids’ stay in foster homes.

“What we are seeing is longer times that they are being served in the foster care system and COVID is definitely having an impact on that,” Julien said.

Wells says when her grandmother took her home for good with her suitcase her life turned around for the better.

“She gave me a real life and because of that I didn’t become a statistic,” Wells said.

Wells hopes not only will these children get the suitcase they need, but the help too.

“An advocate to come into their life. That’s what I hope for them,” Wells said.

CASA stands for court appointed special advocate for children. They are volunteers who are trained for free to advocate in the foster care system.

“A CASA makes a huge difference for the kids that we work with. It gives them that voice, a constant person who cares about what happens to them,” Julien said.

Julien said having a CASA can drastically change a foster child’s life for the better.

“What we see in outcomes is that a child who has a CASA is less likely to have continued issues with abuse and neglect, and is less likely to have additional challenges as a result of their time with care, and is eventually able to find a safe and stable home for them to live in,” Julien said.

Becoming a CASA is something Wells is considering in the future and is learning about the program.

“It would bring me great joy to see that our community does care and there are people who want to help the children,” Wells said.

One suitcase and advocate at a time.

The luggage is being collected at Ballet North on Thursday nights. You can drop them off at 6308 N Prospect Ave in Gladstone, Mo. through the month of January.

Interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Missouri?

  • Cornerstones of Care specializes in Standard and Career Foster Licenses at  1-855-SRV-KIDS (855-778-5437) or visit their website.
  • Crittenton Children’s Center (Saint Luke’s) focuses on medical homes, homes that can accommodate sibling groups, and homes for older youth (age 12 and up).
  • If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Virginia Fatseas at (816) 986-5209
  • Missouri Alliance offers elevated needs training (Level A & B) to our Resource Families.  They also train our foster parents in TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) as well as SOS (Signs of Safety).
  • If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Karie Scott-Roark email: KRoark@MA-CF.org.
  • Great Circle Behavioral Health for Children & Families does foster care licensing for prospective foster parents.
  • If you are interested in learning more about this organization please reach out to Jaqueline Brown at (816) 255-1503 or Jacqueline.Brown@greatcircle.org

Interested in becoming a foster or adoptive parent in Kansas?

Want to see children who are looking for a family?

Want to become a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster children in the metro?

According to CASA’s website, a court appointed special advocate make a life-changing different for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Each volunteer is appointed by a judge to advocate for a child’s best interest in court.

Their volunteers help judges develop a fuller picture of each child’s life. Their advocacy enables judges to make the most well-informed decision for each child.

Missouri

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