Several children in Illinois’ foster care system were recently surprised with suitcases filled with hygiene items and other supplies provided by Centerstone’s Intensive Placement Stabilization (IPS) Program, a much-needed change of pace with so many negative events happening in today’s world.
The IPS Program at Centerstone serves between 45 and 60 children from birth through 18 who are under DCFS guardianship and have been placed with a foster family in Franklin, Jackson, Perry or Williamson counties in Southern Illinois. The program’s goal is to promote stabilization within the home and strengthen connections between children and foster families by consulting with the children and parents, providing a full-continuum of behavioral health services including crisis interventions and connecting families with other needed services.
Recently, IPS Program staffers got creative and took a team trip to Walmart to purchase the “necessity suitcases” for some of their kids who were in need of basic comfort items and essential supplies. In the foster care system, children tend to move frequently and these difficult transitions can cause them to digress into old behaviors. The suitcases are provided to help create a sense of stability for children as they adjust to their new surroundings and to equip them with some of the basics kids need.
“For years, I have seen children and youth being moved from home to home, putting their belongings in garbage bags,” says Edrica McDowell, IPS Program Manager. “This gives the foster care children and youth something to keep their belongings in, something that is theirs to keep. I feel that this gives them a feeling of pride and self-importance.”
Depending on age, gender, personality and other individual needs, IPS staff fill each suitcase with appropriate necessities, such as blankets, pajamas, hygiene items and towels. “To see the kids excited about the things a lot of us take for granted, like shampoo or a washcloth, it was just incredibly humbling,” said Heather Tjaden, Prevention Specialist.
Centerstone’s IPS Program has been serving children and families in Illinois for more than 20 years and is funded through grants awarded annually by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS).