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For the Journey: Foster Care Backpacks

For the Journey: Foster Care Backpacks

Backpacks for Giving Tuesday

Donated new items like these fill backpacks for children of all ages as they leave our Child Protection Team for the care of Child Protection Services and foster or related care.

How You Can Support Programs Like This

Hundreds of children who are suspected to have been abused are brought to Johns Hopkins Children’s Pediatric Emergency Department each year. Our Child Protection Team is a state authority on child abuse and a vocal advocate for child abuse issues. A multidisciplinary task force – emergency medicine experts, law enforcement personnel and specialists from the hospital’s departments of social work and child life – partners with physicians to help an abused or neglected child by easing a child's physical and mental pain.

Young victims of abuse – whether newborns or adolescents – frequently arrive with only the clothes on their backs.

After a complex evaluation, a safety intervention plan is developed that can temporarily place a child into foster care if they do not have other family nearby. To ease this journey, the Department of Child Life gives each child a new backpack stuffed with age-appropriate items: something new to wear, something to comfort, such as a stuffed animal or blanket, and something to play with, such as a game or toy. They also pack in toiletries like a toothbrushes, toothpastes, hairbrushes and deodorant.

“Before filling the backpacks, we ask each child what he or she could like,” says Ryan Fessler, Child Life specialist in the pediatric ED. “We want to give them some choices, some normalization, to help them cope and have something to hold on to.”

The backpacks and items are purchased with donations from individuals, community groups and corporations. If you would like to help with donations of backpacks or items, please contact Alicia Spitznagel, in the Office of Development.

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