Christmas can be a difficult time for children in foster care and the young adults who have aged out of the foster care system. The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) is working with its foster care contractors, KVC Kansas and Saint Francis Community Services, to bring Christmas cheer to children in foster care and young adults formerly in foster care.
“The holiday season is generally a time of family gatherings and joy, but for those separated from their families, it can be hard,” DCF Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said. “So it’s important we show these young people that they are special and deserve a happy holiday.”
Many of the more than 600 young adults, ages 18 to 23, who recently aged out of the foster care system may be without a place to call home or a family with which to celebrate the holidays. DCF’s Hope for the Holidays project aims to ensure that each young adult it serves through its Independent Living program receives a gift. In many cases, that gift is a $100 gift card to a department store. In other cases, the gift includes practical items for the young adults or items for their children.
“For someone who is alone and adjusting to adulthood, these gifts can be especially meaningful during the holiday season,” said Secretary Gilmore.
Last year, DCF reached 313 youth through the campaign. This year, the agency hopes to provide a gift to every one of the youth in Independent Living.
DCF has two foster care contractors that each host campaigns to provide presents to children currently in foster care. KVC Kansas’ Holiday Heroes program is a gift drive to brighten the holidays for more than 4,000 children in foster care and related programs in DCF’s East and Kansas City regions (map below). Saint Francis Community Services (SFCS) provides Christmas gifts for all the children in its care through its Christmas for Kids campaign. Serving 75 percent of the counties in Kansas (in DCF’s West and Wichita regions), the organization provides Christmas gifts for about 3,200 children and youth in foster care and another 1,000 in family preservation, adoption and Independent Living programs.