Amid the Chaos, Foster Parents Can Focus on Loving Children…

By Jason Nabb

We were sitting down to dinner when we got a call from Christian Heritage that they would like to put our name in for a placement.  Two girls, 3 and 3 months.  Forty-five minutes later, these little ones were in our living room.  I’ve never experienced anything like that before or since.  The girls were removed from their home, taken to the Foster Care Closet and then came to our home.  At the time, I hadn’t given it much thought.  There was a whirlwind of papers, case workers, court dates, etc.  Not to mention, personally, my family had one of the most challenging weeks to date.  My daughter totaled her car the next day after we got the girls, the 3-year-old had a trip to the ER, our water was shut off due to road construction, caring for an infant again...what a week!

In retrospect, I realize just how much the Foster Care Closet did for the girls, and for us, that day.  There’s a crib at the intake center where the baby could rest and a play area for toddlers while the case worker, specialists, agencies and authorities worked to get the girls a foster home.  Foster Care Closet staff loved on the kiddos, cared for their needs and fed them.  These girls are now my adoptive children.  They came into foster care with nothing.  The baby was in just a diaper and the little girl was in a dirty tattered dress.  Their only possessions...they each had a blanket that, to this day, they cling to lovingly.  At the Foster Care Closet, the children were outfitted with enough new clothing.  We did not have to concern ourselves with that particular necessity.  When the girls came home, we could love on them and pour out our hearts in those first critical moments in care.  

As a foster parent, you don't know what the future is going to hold.  You're called, and in moments, a child is placed in your care.  You fall in love.  Sometimes you have to give them back, forever concerned for this little one that you are permanently connected to in your heart.  Sometimes, like us, you're blessed with the bittersweet opportunity to raise them.  The bumps are hard, because you can't be their biological parent, but you do your best to fill their lives with love.  It may, on the surface, seem like a little thing to have a backpack full of new clothes for these kids when they go through this life changing event.  But from where I sit, it's one of the most loving acts the "Closet" can do because it saves precious time at a critical life moment for these children that will shape the definition of what love is to them, for the rest of their lives.

I feel so much gratitude for the Foster Care Closet's forethought to care for these little ones in ways I hadn’t considered before I knew they were coming into my home.  Our story is one of hundreds that is touched by the Foster Care Closet.

Please consider partnering with the Foster Care Closet.  For just $25/month, you can help us provide clothing and dignity for a foster child.

Instead of Pointing a Finger, We Hold Their Hand…

Why Children Come Into Foster Care

There’s a myth out there that many kids are in foster care because of something they did.  It’s surprising, but that belief is stronger than you might realize.  Especially when it comes to teenagers, many assume there was behavior issues with the child.  Although there may be some isolated instances where that is the case, it’s the exception, not the rule.  


In reality, homes where there is drug use, physical, sexual and emotional abuse, domestic violence, severe neglect, intolerable living conditions and unaddressed medical concerns are the leading causes of children being removed from the home.  One of the most discouraging reasons for removal is extreme poverty.  “If I could talk to the Church in America today, I would tell them, ‘We could stop this if each church helped meet the needs of even one family in extreme poverty.’  It’s so sad to me to see a family ripped apart because of poverty, but it does happen.”  Leigh Esau, Executive Director for the Foster Care Closet said shaking her head.  Multi-generational removals are also common.  Grandparent was in foster care, parent was in foster children are being removed.  


Intake Care CenterAt the peak of this crisis, is the actual moment of removal.  It is the critical point when children are introduced to foster care that we, as a ministry, have the opportunity to love them, care for them and meet their needs.  In this moment, we can be the hands and feet of Jesus and provide compassion and dignity through the simple act of giving them some new clothes to wear, something to eat and maybe an empathetic ear or shoulder on which to cry.  This is the Foster Care Closet Intake Care Center.  It’s a calm place in the midst of the turbulent storm that is their life.   Night or day, the Intake Care Center is there for these wounded children.  We strive to be the first emotional bandages and spiritual first aid these kiddos receive when being introduced to foster care.


“Foster Care needs to be treated with urgency, and it's just not.  A removal is like a trip to the ER.  It's as serious as an amputation.  We can put that lost limb back on, but there are scars, healing, pain and it may never function like it used to function.”  Esau said.  When a child is removed from the home it has a lasting impact on their life.  It’s an experience that will, most likely, leave them with more questions than answers.  We try to answer the question...Am I loved?

Please consider supporting these businesses and thank them for supporting the Foster Care Closet.  If you want your dollar turned into $4, please consider partnering with us.  Just click on “Contribute” and sign up to give monthly.  Just $25/month will provide clothing for a child in Foster Care.

Store Partners Make All the Difference

$1 Donation = $4 for the Foster Care Closet

On average, Leigh Esau, Executive Director of the Foster Care Closet, can turn a donated dollar into four bucks! It’s not magic, it’s just Leigh driving a hard bargain with some very generous and supportive local and national brands.

It is clear that there are many people that contribute to the Foster Care Closet’s operation. Volunteers, Board Members, Staff, generous donors and, of course, the foster families and Nebraska State Deptartment of Health Case Workers. However, some of our partners silently contribute in major ways each and every day. They are our store partners.

“Our store partners have begun to understand how they are impacting the community. Staff come and volunteer at the closet. They bring their retail expertise. They advocate on the Closet's behalf. They truly have become hand-in-hand partners with The Foster Care Closet as we reach out to kiddos every single day.”

- Leigh Esau, Exec. Dir.

Foster Care Closet Store Partners

Leigh works diligently to maintain strong relationships with many retail stores and manufacturers to provide quality clothing at the lowest possible prices. Because of this work, the Foster Care Closet can turn a single donated dollar into, on average, $4 dollars’ worth of clothing for kids in care! Companies like Wal-Mart, Rue21, Children’s Place and Old Navy, as well as manufacturers, such as Skechers, provide their brand-new, high-quality clothing for pennies on the dollar to support children in Foster Care. We love them!

So, although we welcome donations of new clothing, we can make the biggest impact using monetary donations to buy from our partners at prices lower than what the general public receives. Awesome, right?

How You Can Join Us…

Please consider supporting these businesses and thank them for supporting the Foster Care Closet.  If you want your dollar turned into $4, please consider partnering with us.  Just click on “Contribute” and sign up to give monthly.  Just $25/month will provide clothing for a child in Foster Care.

“Mommy, Where Are They Taking Me?” – When A Child Enters Foster Care

It’s the middle of the night.  Sleeping.  You awake to someone leading you out of your bed.  Stranger.  Scared, your eyes dart around the room looking for familiar faces.  There’s one.  Mom.  But she’s talking frantically with a lady.  Mom hands Stranger a big black bag with something in it.

You get on your coat, mom is still talking to that lady.  Mom turns and kneels, “Everything is going to be okay, honey.  You’ll go with this lady and you’re going to stay with some nice people for awhile while mommy and daddy get some help.  (Wait, where’s Daddy?) I will visit with you very soon.”  You try to object.  You whisper a soft “when, Mommy?”  She doesn’t hear.  You don’t have words for what’s happening or how you feel.  You go.  Confused.  Frightened.

What’s next?  What’s even happening?  Not all child removals are just like this, but every child entering into care has questions like, “What did I do?   Where are my parents?  My brother?  Who are these people?  Where am I going?  Am I safe?  Will I get fed?  Where will I stay?”

‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ -Matthew 25:40

Child Intake Care Center - Foster Care Closet
Intake Care Center Play Area

How We Introduce a Child to Foster Care

A child being placed in foster care has many needs as well.  Not the least of which is compassionate care from those helping them navigate this very traumatic experience.  They need to understand what’s happening and why.  Often, they come with only the clothes on their backs.  They are usually hungry.  They come, in tow, with a caseworker who is probably over-worked and frantically looking for a place for this child to go.  This process can take hours and hours.  Hours just sitting there, wondering, hurting, crying…

Intake Care Center
Meeting and hangout spaces at the Child Intake Care Center

At the Child Intake Center, the Foster Care Closet staff treat their “guests” with dignity.  The Center is quiet, peaceful, home-like.  There are toys and couches.  Intake staff will run and get the child their favorite meal.  We talk to them and meet their needs.  We don’t try to explain what’s going on with their situation.  We love them.  That love softens the incredible blow foster children are dealt.  The Foster Care Closet Intake Center ensures that the child has new clothes to wear and the necessities...toothbrush, soap and other toiletries are packaged with new outfits to wear to school tomorrow in an age-appropriate backpack.  Our prayer is that these children will feel some dignity.  That tomorrow, when the day is new, perhaps their hope that they will make it through this ordeal is also renewed, and they can face the next day.

May is Foster Care Awareness Month

If you would like to join the Foster Care Closet in their work, there are many ways in which you can.  Please consider making a monthly contribution of just $25/month.  Your donation will help provide for the clothing 1 child receives while in Foster Care.