The Massachusetts Department of Social Services (DSS) cares for nearly 10,000 children subject to severe abuse or neglect in their home. In 1999, the Department established the DSS Kids Fund to provide comfort and assistance to these children. They have more than eight specific programs geared to give the children what they were not receiving at home. In addition to these programs, the Fund also supports the 30,000 needy children who remain with their birth families while receiving services from DSS.
The Department assembled a board of DSS employees, foster parents, and concerned citizens to develop the Kids Fund. By gathering the varied people, the needs of the children would be better served. The DSS Kids Fund is a private, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization that affects not only the children but the families that are caring for them also.
The Fund has a Placement Packet Project, which provides every child entering care with necessities. Many of the 8,000 children who enter foster care each year come without adequate clothing and with poor hygiene. The packets include items such as infant formula, toiletries, clothing, diapers and toys that make the transition to foster care as comfortable as possible.
In addition to the Placement Packet Project, the Fund sponsors a Foster Children’s Holiday Gift Drive to ensure that each child in DSS care has a memorable holiday season. They also have a Literacy Campaign that solicits donations of books and funds so that children in foster care can learn and grow. Foster Children’s Summer Campership Drive sends foster children to either day or overnight summer camp for one or two week sessions. Experiencing camp assists in the growth and development of the children.
Each of the 29 DSS Area Offices has rooms for supervised visits between foster children and their birth parents. The Fund uses donations to decorate the rooms to help make what may be a difficult visit a bit easier. The Fund also has a Computer for Foster Kids Program, Meals for Foster Kids Program and a Foster/Adoptive Family Recruitment Campaign. These programs help give the adolescent children a good start on their education, nourishment, and shed light to the plight of the children in the state.
Finally, The Fund has a Special Moments Fund. Knowing that foster children do not have the little things that other children may take for granted. This Fund helps to purchase things like visits to museums, amusement parks and camping trips.
DSS Kids Fund is caring extended across the generations. One young girl is particularly grateful for them. She is a teenager heading for college, though she was robbed of her youth by a drug-addicted mother who used drugs in front of her and left her for days at a time at the age of six with responsibility of two younger siblings. The teen was sent with a foster family with her siblings and is now looking towards her future. She advised, “it means so much to me, just knowing that somebody cared. DSS gets a lot of bad publicity, but I don’t know where I’d be without DSS and the Kids Fund.”