AUSTIN, Texas — As children get ready to head back to school, it's important to remember that each child entering the classroom has a different home life.
For children in foster care, heading back to school can be overwhelming and even frightening. Workers at the nonprofit Partnerships for Children aim to help these children feel prepared.
"Our kids move around a lot. They go from school to school, from placement to placement. And we want their first day of school – no matter if it's the first day here, the first day in six weeks – we want them to be able to go back to school with all the things that all their classmates go back with," said Katie Young with Partnerships for Children.
Sarah Murry is a former teacher who now works for Partnerships for Children, helping children in foster care. She said there was a time she had a student in her class who needed his clothes washed and extra food.
"We had a kid who was not able to wash his clothes or to take showers, so several of the teachers at our school, the coaches let him come in to bathe, and other teachers, we would rotate washing his clothing for him. And he wasn't an isolated incident. That happened many times over the years," Murry said.
Walking away from being a teacher was hard for Murry, but she enjoys working on the nonprofit side of things now.
"It's amazing to see kids succeed when they didn't have all of the good starts that we would want them to have," Murry said. "And we always say kids are resilient, and I just, I really feel like they shouldn't have to be."
Every educator in Texas is a mandated reporter for child abuse.
"They're going to see those kids for the first time in three months. So, probably the intakes will go up a little bit, reports are going to go up, investigations will go up. So, we'll see more kids," Young said. "And we want to be able to provide backpacks and school supplies for those kids too, even though we didn't know they were coming into care."
Partnerships for Children's "Rainbow Room" needs both backpacks and monetary donations right now. Find out how you can help.
KVUE launched the Forever Families segment with Partnerships for Children (PFC) in June 2020 to highlight children in the Heart Gallery of Central Texas who need secure and permanent families. Every day, there are nearly 1,000 children waiting to get adopted in Central Texas, according to PFC.
Editor's note: The children who are in the Heart Gallery program and featured in KVUE's Forever Families segments are children who have had every effort made on their behalf to connect them with family or others in their community to provide options for permanent, adoptive homes. Through no fault of their own, that hasn’t happened yet, and so in partnership with the Department of Family and Protective Services, we collaborate to bring awareness to KVUE viewers about these children in the hopes of finding them permanency before they age out.
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