An Auckland charity gives children in foster care a special gift of jim-jams to help them settle in.

Sophie Bond

reports

.

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From the bright purple backpack hangs a swing tag marked "girl, 13-15", with a little message of hope written to the recipient.



Today, Barnardo's social worker Justine Iotua models the bag, while foster care team leader Caroline Jones holds some of the pyjamas donated by Foster Hope.



"We were really grateful to receive the backpacks and pyjamas. Often, children who are removed from their homes have been extremely neglected, or there's abuse in the family home and they are removed urgently, so they come with nothing," says Mrs Jones.



The Foster Hope charity collects donated goods and assembles kits to give to children who have had to be removed from their homes. Presently, the focus is on collecting pyjamas for these children.



Mrs Iotua says the packs may include underwear, toiletries and books, or nappies and teddy bears for younger children.



"The backpack gives the child something positive to focus on in a situation that has been quite horrific. It also means the foster parent can concentrate on settling the child in on the first night rather than having to rush to the shops to buy things."



She gave out three kits last week. "The kids were excited to have them. It was really special for them."



Children are referred to Barnardo's by the Child Youth and Family service and may need temporary or long-term care. Barnardo's has 42 foster care households in Auckland and is always looking for more foster parents, particularly those willing to take teenagers.



Foster Hope chairperson Louise Allnutt says the idea for the charity came from Sam Weir, a short-term carer from Waiuku, who constantly saw children arrive at temporary places with nothing. "It started with teddy bears, and that developed into packs and now it's growing steadily," says Mrs Allnutt.



She says they have already collected 200 pairs of pyjamas and would like another 800.



"We send the kits to a whole range of agencies, like Barnardo's, who deal with foster children. These kits can be something that shows the child someone cares about them."

Cheer a child

To find out how to become a foster parent, call 625 0550 or see: www.barnardos.org.nz

If you have goods - especially pyjamas - you'd like to donate, please see: www.fosterhope.co.nz for details of what is needed and where to send them. Or call

Louise on 473 2357.