Foster children in Acadiana will soon be ready for school with brand new supplies, thanks to an initiative called The Backpack Project.
In its sixth year, The Backpack Project aims to help out foster children and families ahead of the 2021-22 school year.
Organizers explain that when a child is removed from their home, they are placed in a foster home within 2-4 hours. As mandated by the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS), the child must return to school within three days of removal, and this is usually a different school based on the location of the family. When a child enters care, they may have only the clothes on their backs, and the foster family is responsible for purchasing everything the child will need for school. Also, many children are removed in the middle of the school year and need to purchase all new supplies to attend the new school, organizers say.
The Backpack Project is again partnering with Kiwanis of Lafayette and will hold its volunteer event at the Petroleum Club of Lafayette.
The groups are requesting monetary donations to purchase the backpacks. They'll then fill the backpacks with community donated supplies. Next, the packs will head to Court Appointed Special Advocate of South Louisiana (CASA of SoLA), which helps advocate for abused and neglected children. CASA of SoLA has been designated as the recipient of the backpacks for foster children in the 15th Judicial Court, which includes Lafayette, Acadia, and Vermilion Parishes. On average, the group represents 200 children per year. They will work with DCFS to deliver backpacks to foster children in Acadiana.
"We're so excited because this gives everyone an opportunity to volunteer to bring your children to learn about volunteerism and then write notes of inspiration and also do little keychain pulls and different things to pack the backpacks for these foster children," explained Stephanie LeBlanc, foster mother and originator and chair of the Backpack project.
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