Foster Kids Forced To Shop Charity in Michigan

whose clothes are these?!

I am boiling……that’s what my FB status said the other night.  My friend Sunday’s tweet sent me reeling….and althought I have calmed (thank you Yvonne), and have had a few days to think it over, I am still dumbfounded by the irresponsible comments and suggestions made by Senator Bruce Caswell regarding Foster Kids…..which could inevitably affect foster kids everywhere! 

He wants the kids to ONLY be allowed to spend their (are you sitting down) $79 bucks a YEAR clothing allowance at a thrift store…like Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc.  This is ridiculous…on both accounts.  As a foster mother myself, I can tell you first hand that $79 is going to get you nowhere fast with a growing child, old used clothes or new!  I spent more than that in a month, sometimes a week!  Let’s be real.  And, IF a child wants to buy a new pair of shoes and a hoodie that all the other kids in school are wearing……so what….WHY not??? 

These kids have had plenty to deal with!  Aren’t they traumatized enough?  They now need this stigma too?!  Can we scream we don’t care and you don’t matter ANY louder?

And for those who think I don’t get it…I do.  I know you “save money and it goes farther” when you shop 2nd hand.  Been there, done that.  As a mother of 4, and a former foster mom, I get it.  However, that is NOT the point. 

Foster kids need to know they are valued.  They matter.  That we care!  What you, Caswell, are suggesting is doing the opposite.  You are sending a very bad and hurtful message.  This will NOT teach kids self value, self worth, or anything else – good.  Get real!  And, just because you never had anything new, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t either. 

Not to mention its a different world than it was when you were growing up in the 50’s.  And, lets not forget that depending on where you live and where you shop, the 2nd hand stores are going to have vastly different items available.  That is reality!  So, saying a child is going to find those new nike’s or that hoodie he/she wants is NOT reality.  Saying he/she shouldn’t be able to buy it new is absurd and insulting.  How about socks and underwear, should they share those too?!  Oh, please.  I would like to see you and your family wear ALL used 2nd hand clothes for a year….then we’ll talk.  Walk the walk Senator.  And while your at it, how about suggesting taking some of the money being spent on the Golf course a town away (for the rich), and putting it towards the clothing allowance for Foster kids, bringing them up to a whopping $100 a year?!  Just sayin…..

This is only one example of how broken the foster care system is AND how government has the ability to make or break a child…an innocent child!  As a people we need to stand up and speak for ALL foster kids, who have NO voice!  It is our responsibility.  We are their voice!  They are our future.  These kids need us, now! 

And, what better way than May, Foster Care Awareness month.  Please join me in making a big deal about this (for all Foster Kids)….call, write a letter, send an email…Senator Caswell can be reached here…or do a gift card drive….whatever you can do!  You know I have a big mouth, and can hardly contain myself when confronted with insanity…I mean stupidity….but with your voice we can be much louder!!!!  So, I am asking you to speak up!  I promise, together we can and do make a difference:) 

Let them hear us ROARRRRRRR….for ALL of the kids.

Thanks so much,


What do you think about the clothing allowance?  The Senator wanting to force clothing options?  How would you feel if you were told you could ONLY shop thrift?  How do you think your kids would feel?  How would it affect them emotionally?  Socially?  Do you believe it will impact Foster children?  In what way?!

About Rita Brennan Freay

The journey of a 1000 miles always ends with a dirty diaper. Headmaster of a self inflicted international preschool & visitor center compassionately changing kids lives, one diaper at a time.
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48 Responses to Foster Kids Forced To Shop Charity in Michigan

  1. Hi Rita,
    Good for you! Well said — your powerful words are sure to raise awareness, mobilize people, and raise a little action. Hopefully enough to make a difference.

  2. Yes, 79$ is absurd even 20 years ago when I was in high school. They don’t need to wear gucci, but 79$ could barely buy you a pair of jeans a shirt anymore. Kudos to you for banging the drum

  3. Kurt E Eck says:

    Ughh! I thought my agencies policy of one dollar a day per kid for clothing, allowance, and sundries was low ball. Honestly – 365 dollars isn’t even enough to cloth a kid and take care of other needs. I, as well as many of my friends who are foster parents, spend a significant portion of our own funds on our kids. And it isn’t at thrift stores.

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Ugh, I hear you! A dollar a day…that’s interesting…wonder what lawmaker came up with that one! Guess we should be happy, its more than what others get…however both are NOT enough! As a foster mother myself we spent well about our allowance….easily…and we need to change this for the kids!!! Thanks for stopping by and letting others know what the reality is for foster parents as well:) AND, thank you & your friends for doing what you do…caring for kids:)

  4. Ann Evanston says:

    Rita, you are the voice for kids, I love your brand and message. It’s crappy enough that these kids ARE hand me downs. But this wack leader has no clue – obviously. I wish there was a way for people to give to a fund to raise moeny so foster kids to have a higher allowance for shopping. Nice things makes us feel good.

    Ann Evanston
    Discover your REAL Edge

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thanks Ann;) Appreciate your kind words and support. He is clueless! I love the idea of a fund….I have to look into the logistics…like you said, we all like nice things…and feel great about putting them on and feeling good about ourselves…..foster kids deserve this too! It would be awesome to help them get it:)

    • Daniel says:

      Swiss cheese is low FODMAP, crerbanry juice (1 glass) was just added to the low FODMAP shopping guide in the new Monash University booklet (3rd edition) and Nutella not really sure I would imagine small amounts would be okay it’s mostly sugar and palm sugar chocolate has not yet been tested so not that could be a problem. Once you are done with the elimination phase perhaps-you could trial a bit of nutella to assess your tolerance. Of note, some US crerbanry juice products contain high fructose corn syrup (UGH!) and these would not be recommended.

    • Open says:

      Love your advocacy Rita I will tweet and share in my FB pirofle. I didn’t know it was Foster Care awareness month (somehow the news hasn’t mentioned that as much as why Arnold and Maria have separated ) I do think there is a lot of fear associated with the process. If you have had infertility problems and are hoping foster care will lead to adoption, you fear that it might not work out; you worry, as your friend you mention in the video that you won’t be accepted; you worry about the kids themselves especially if you are bringing them into a home with other kids. I liked the way you addressed that you have the final say who will be placed in your home. I think having more dialog and putting all these fears out on the table will help more people make this decision.

    • Faltu says:

      , it was not the right place for you at the time don’t let it haunt you! But I can see how you feel like your being called again! (we are so alike lol!) And WHO would be able to say NO to you .they are crazy for not hirnig you! Just sayin But, remember, you have already done so much, and helped me, and we’ve reach more people than expected in less than 2 months AND all during an overwhelming time for you personally. That is success woman! Can’t thank you enough for reaching out and spreading the word .people need to know and learn from people they trust like you and me! Its happening and baby steps are better than none! Together we will make a difference for ALL the kids! Thank you Yvonne .I am so grateful and honored to call you my friend:)

  5. Raising 5 kids on my own,

    Five kids on a shoestring: I washed and dried the thrift-shop clothes, folded them and put them in their drawers, they wore them and never questioned where the stiff came from. Didn’t make an issue of what we should have or could have. The all grew up fine.

    • It’s not about the thrift shop and it is not about the clothes. You don’t get it. Foster kids are already treated like trash, like second-class citizens. Our voices dont matter; not in decisions regarding our placements, not in decisions made in the court-room regarding our lives (except permanency) and not in what happens to us. We don’t matter.

      We get poor medical care, poor dental care, and poor services. Less than half of aged-out foster kids have a high school dipolma. Less than 3% goto college and only about 1% of them graduate from college. Most have mental health problems that are not appropiately treated (PTSD in foster children is 2-4 times greater than in veterans). Some states dont even pay for braces.

      They have few items that are “theirs” and many are lost along the way after moving from home to home. The items they have are transported in trash bags and boxes. And by the time you age-out of foster care, you usually don’t have shit… including a family.

      Your kids have a family and a mother.

      You dont get it. It’s not about the clothes. It’s about the message to the kids.

      • Rita Brennan Freay says:

        You took the words right out of my mouth LT. It is NOT about the 2nd hand clothes…..its about the message to the kids. And as much as I am glad he changed his proposal…the message has been sent…you can’t un-ring that bell. Disturbing. I am all for the CHOICE to shop wherever you want…saving money….and making ends meet….just don’t belittle innocent kids in the process!

  6. Not enough room for me to say how I really feel! This is just disgusting. All kids matter and should have nice things, why are foster kids tossed to the side? Like it’s their fault no one wants them???? This so reminds me of when we adopted my youngest from Kazakhstan. I sent her a care package with all kinds of goodies for her to keep and bring home with her. The idiots in the orphanage never gave it to her. When she was released from captivity (the orphanage) all she had was a torn Mickey Mouse shirt and a ripped pair of shorts, her underwear that she was wearing and grimny flip-flops. That’s it! Talk about insanity. I will be contacting Senator Caswell, it’s already on my calendar for first thing in the morning. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thank you Laurie for stepping up and being the voice for these kids! They need us. We also experienced this with my adopted daughter….the clothes on her back and that was it. Nothing to bring home, not a memory of her first 18 months…sad:( As a foster mom I tried to take pix, save clothes, create memories….do what I could for them….but this $79 crap is just killing me…and then to say use it at a thrift store….you gotta be kidding me!

  7. yeh… i was worth dirty, used underwear and socks. put them in trash bags and you have a foster kid.

    you know why someone can say something like that? because he has NO idea what it is like being a foster kid. none.
    and most of the people making decisions and rules about foster kids have NO idea what it is like being one. … that is a huge problem.

    by the way, he changed his message now. he got so many messages and comments…

    here is the new thing:

    • oh by the way…. i am in my early 20s, aged-out, and still have to shop in thrift stores and goodwill….
      i have no choice because i am poor as dirt.. and do you have any idea how hard it is to find sizes for skinny people in goodwill?

      so its not that i am against shopping in thrift stores. i am against being told as a foster kid that ALL i am worth is “seconds”

      • Rita Brennan Freay says:

        I have a passion for those aging out….I can’t believe we just leave 18 year olds to fend for themselves in what can be a harsh cruel world for working adults….with a support system! Its disgusting. Hang in ther LT….we care and are all pulling for you…and btw, you are SO worth it…..keep writing, keep using your voice…it needs to be heard…so change can happen. Thanks again for giving us a reality check….we all need it sometimes!

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thanks for the updated link….I hadn’t seen that. I still don’t get him…and his message was heard and already planted the seed….BUT I am glad he got so many responses…and it went viral! I SO agree with you LT….none of us really know what it is like, or can truly understand, ever….and he especially has no idea…but as a foster mom I want to believe I have a very small idea of some of the problems and issues….which is why it is so important for me to speak up….for all of the kids! I know I’ve said it before…your voice needs to be heard! Thank you for sharing…and stopping by!

  8. Donna McCord says:

    Thank Goodness there are people like you, Rita, that put muscle behind their voices and shed light in the darkness. I am so confounded by the ways that our politicians are coming up with to save money and reduce costs, and this is just one more example of what seems to be a lack of understanding about what the real solutions are…not to say I know what they are, but I do know it makes no sense to penalize innocent children for the bad decisions and irresponsible spending habits of adults!

  9. ROARRRRRRR!!!! I don’t agree with the $79 and they should totally be able to spend it where they want to. Why put limits! It’s like putting limits on their dreams and we know already that many adults had their dreams crushed and are in careers they don’t love. We need to take a stand and show they matter because they do. We need to start young and let them know they are worthy. ROARRRRRRR!!!!

    Love what you are spreading! So fierce!

    Alara K. Castell
    Your Sassy Spiritual Guide

  10. How bizarre to try and mandate where a foster child spends his or her clothing allowance. True: $79 irrespective of how it is spent will not clothe a growing child for a year. I like your suggestion that Caswell and and his family trot ’round in thrift only duds for a year. Oh yeah, AND they are not allowed to spend more than $79 too ALL YEAR. That would basically eat the purcahse of perhaps one tie. Then the fine Senator could sport a very nice grass sack. They are form fitting and roomy. Karen~

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Hehehe Karen……complete sillyness! Gotta wonder. We are on the same page…and I’d love to see any Senator make it on $79 a year….Capital Hill would be a funny place to visit if they were all in grass sacks! What a photo opp that would be….lol!

  11. Hi Rita,
    I love your fierce mama energy and fight for kids! Yes, we must send kids the message that they matter! I see too many adults that need healing in this area because they didn’t get that message as kids…

    Dictating where that $79 gets spend is ridiculous…and so is the amount!
    Brandy Mychals
    Speaker, Author, Communications Coach
    Creator of the Character Code System

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Fierce mama… that…sums it up well! You see everyday the effects something like this can have….well into adulthood. Very sad! Thanks Brandy:)

  12. Lisa Vitale says:

    Couldn’t agree more, $79 per year is not enough for any growing child to stay properly clothed.

    I send in my two cents to the Senator today. Told him that since taxpayers dollars pay his salary, then maybe the taxpayers should be allowed to tell him how he spends it.

    Glad to hear that he’s amended it, but the idea is out there, the thought is out there, and it’s too late to take it back.

    Thanks for bringing this to light and for fighting the good fight for these kids!

    Lisa Vitale

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Awesome Lisa…ALL the kids thank you!!! I feel the same way…its too late to “take it back”…….the damage is done! Thanks for adding your ROARRRR!

  13. Sunday says:

    Thank you so much for stand up for foster kids. This proposal is inhumane on an Oliver Twist level. I have nothing against choosing second hand clothing, for one’s self, their children, or even their foster children, what I have a huge issue with is us as a society sending the clear message to foster children that they ONLY worthy of other’s cast offs.

    Sunday Koffron Please Stand Up

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Sunday, what he is saying is ridiculous and insulting….and I am being nice! I am glad to hear he is removing it from the proposal…but as I said above, its too late, and the damage is done!!! When will the madness end?!?!? Thank you for all you do to set the record straight, tell it like it is, and help foster youth! You rock!! I am always happy to hear your ROARRRRR!

  14. I still can’t get past the absurdity of $79 a year–let alone instruction on where to spend it! I’m glad to read that he amended his comment, but I’m hoping that fact that he did make that statement will actually raise awareness–just like you raised ours.
    You’re a crusader, Rita–don’t ever apologize for that.

  15. Pat Zahn says:

    Well, seems as though the Senator has now amended his proposal, but he will undoubtedly receive flack for some time due to his insensitive remarks. Can’t argue with any of your outrage Rita. A lot of states and our federal government have budget crises and the way they want to deal with that is to cut services for children, old people, poor people and schools – because, you know, that’s where all the waste is

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Thanks for the laugh…..exactly, that’s where all the waste is….lmao! An amended propsal is good….very smart move….but as we all know, not enough for the kids…because they need MORE! I have to give him credit for helping shine the spotlight on a topic that otherwise doesn’t get enough coverage:(

  16. Rita, I share your outrage and I can’t think of anything to add to your eloquently worded piece. In the article you linked to, I also noticed that the government is trying to prevent foster parents from adopting when the “family” is not a traditional mom and dad. This outrages me further. Loving same-sex couples, grandmoms and aunts and other family configurations can foster children but never give them the security they so cherish by finalizing their relationship with adoption. This makes no sense either. Our foster kids are marginalized enough as you say. Enough is enough!

    Susan Berland
    A Picture’s Worth

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      I saw that too when I went back to the article a second time to be sure I wasn’t misreading his comments…its ridiculous that they are going to allienate loving parents/families….for kids who all they really want is to belong, be part of a family, and feel wanted! The sense of completion that adoption gives a child is the final acceptance…and it looks like Michigan will say NO to that. Enough is enough. Its about the kids…..and finding them forever families. Stop the madness!

  17. I share your passion for changing the foster care system. After reviewing the other articles online about Sen. Caswell…I found this one that explains that he is removing the suggestion from the proposal. I think his intentions may have been good but clearly his execution was flawed.

    All in all…as a society we need to figure out ways to protect all our children, if we don’t we will all surely suffer.


    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Good to know Darcie…I am sure his intentions were good…and removing it from the proposal is smart….however, it is still a reality that $80 a year doesn’t keep a kid in clothes….no matter where you are shopping! I hope he helps to change that as well. Unfortunately for him, but good for spreading the word, his remarks and initial intentions will spotlight the reality of foster care….and a system in dire need of fixing….for all the kids!

      • I so agree that $80 is not enough to clothe a child and only further exacerbates an already difficult situation. The system is in need of a fix and given the current economic situation I won’t be holding my breathe for it…I think the only way to effect change in this arena will be from grass roots efforts.


  18. I am so in agreement with you! Being forced to buy second hand could make a child feel so cheap and unworthy. Plus embarrassed! It’s completely different when you choose to hunt for second-hand clothing (my husband makes it a hobby). We actually faced this issue with my step-daughter, when her mother would only buy her thrift-store clothing (a decision that came from some odd philosophy rather than need) and it drove my husband crazy for the reasons you are citing.

    Great topic deserving of your “rrrrroarrr”!

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    “My cat owns me, my clutter stymies me, my writing frees me. Word maven loves—and learns from—ordinary life.”

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Yes Judy, its all about choice!!! And the fact that not all 2nd hand stores have what the kids need…in their sizes!

  19. Julie Labes says:

    I read this the other day and commented then. It makes me sick too. The people who make these decisions are hardly ever affected by them. The cuts in education don’t effect the politician…their kids go to private schools..paid for by us the taxpayers. I would like to see this guy try to clothes his kids on $79. a year. I do buy clothes from Goodwill as does my daughter…biggest difference is WE HAVE THAT CHOICE. And these kids just like others should have that same choice

    Julie Labes,…The Fierce over 50 feels much younger point and click junkie loves to travel does not use a jogging stroller and before you ask this is NOT my granddaughter..Woman

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      CHOICE….is the keyword here. These kids have lost everything, let them choose their clothes….and have new underwear! Make your budget cuts somewhere else! Thanks for coming over and sharing your comments….appreciate it Julie!

  20. Sunday says:

    Thank you so much for stand up for foster kids. This proposal is inhumane on an Oliver Twist level. I have nothing against choosing second hand clothing, for one’s self, their children, or even their foster children, what I have a huge issue with is us as a society sending the clear message to foster children that they ONLY worthy of other’s cast offs.

    <a herf="; title="Sunday Koffron Please Stand Up"

    • Rita Brennan Freay says:

      Anytime Sunday! This really ticked me off. I agree with all you are saying…and I have nothing against 2nd hand clothing either….but its a choice….this is sending the wrong message (on so many levels!)….we need to stand up…and be the voice..its all about the kids!!!

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