Comfort Cases

What if foster kids were able to enter their foster home with a Comfort Case filled with new items instead of a trash bag?

Photo of Vicki Corini
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

When Rob Scheer, founder of Comfort Cases, and his husband took on 4 kids within 4 months through foster care, they all arrived with a trash bag filled with used and dirty items. This appalled them and filled them with sorrow and the drive to change the way foster children transition into foster care. Rob went on to create Comfort Cases to give these kids dignity in the form of a bag filled with basic human needs such as soap and a toothbrush as well as comfort items like a blanket; all new.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Self-identify race, ethnicity, or origin

If you chose to self-identify your race, ethnicity, or origin, please share here: (the answer will not be public)

My identity is not of importance in this mission. We serve every race, color, religion, etc.

Website

http://www.comfortcases.org

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • Maryland

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Gaithersburg

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • Maryland

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

Washington, DC; In Maryland - Baltimore, Columbia, Frederick, Haggerstown, Hyattsville, Lanham, Rockville; In Virginia- Annendale, Arlington, Front Royal, La Playta.

We serve any cities with Social Services agencies.

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Foster children are often ripped from their known environments with no notice. They are transported to a stranger's home with little to no belongings in a trash bag. They are not allowed to go "home" to get their personal favorite items. They are forced into a scary situation with nothing that they know and no one they know. We at Comfort Cases can not fix what they are going through but we can make it better by giving them a Comfort Case.

The community has a responsibility to take care of it's children.  Foster children often fall through the cracks and end up with so little.  It's time to change that by giving these brave children dignity in the form of a Comfort Case that they can keep forever.  We may not be able to change their lot in life, but we CAN make their transition a little easier.  

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Low-income communities

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Child and Family Services

Year Founded

2013

Project Stage

  • Scaling (the solution has passed the previous stages, and the next step will be growing its impact on a regional or global scale)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

Community is key.We start by taking donations from youth groups, schools, etc.We hold packing parties where groups can join the action and pack Comfort Cases to be delivered to foster children. Once we have Comfort Cases packed, we deliver them to the various social services agencies in the MD, VA, DC area.The people who place foster children into new homes are armed with Comfort Cases instead of a trash bag.Each case is distinguished by pajama size so kids get items that are geared towards their age, interests. Specifically they contain: the bag, a blanket, pj's, soap, shampoo, toothbrush & paste, a book, either a coloring book and crayons or a journal and pen & pencil set, and a stuffed animal.All feedback from the agencies is positive!

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We were able to donate over 7,000 Comfort Cases to children in foster care last year! While we can not yet empirically give data because our cases help youth who are protected, we will look to secure anonymous research data once we have the funding to do so. We do, however, receive direct feedback from case workers who notice a difference in the kids who receive Comfort Cases versus those who are forced to use a trash bag. The kids who receive a Comfort Case are more content and feel a little more secure. Foster youth make up 80% of the juvenile justice system. If we as a community can start changing the way these kids are treated from the beginning, we are hoping that we can change this statistic.

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Annual Budget

  • $10k - $50k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We are 100% volunteer run and rely on community donations. At this point we have no overhead cost for our office space. As we know this will one day change, we are hoping to seek out funds via grants and corporate sponsorship. We have grown in the number of donations we receive from the community each year and we have sustained a number of groups that have committed to continuing to collect on our behalf.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

There are no other organizations in this area that work in the same field. Our approach is not quite innovative but it is unique since no one else is addressing the problem. Foster children are a silent problem in the US with a big impact on the US population.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

There is not a lot being done in the field of foster children. There is not enough funding nor is there enough interest by the population to make any changes. People in the US don't really understand the need for changes. We hope that by focusing on the way children transition into foster care and changing that, we can open the dialogue going on regarding foster care. By creating a name for Comfort Cases and raising awareness of how we treat our foster youth at their scariest moment, we can open the eyes of the public to the other problems effecting foster children, thus helping them thrive.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Twitter
  • Other

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka, who was it? (the answer will not be public)

Melanie Gilbert

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. Relevance: Does this project seem to help children (ages 0 to 12 years) develop a strong sense of self, belonging, and purpose?

5 - Yes, this is great! The project lays out a strong, compelling case for how its model nurtures children’s wellbeing. - 100%

4 - It seems like a good fit, and the model talks explicitly about children’s wellbeing. - 0%

3 - I think so. The project seems related to children’s wellbeing, but the logic is vague. - 0%

2 - Not sure. The project doesn’t have much to do with wellbeing, or it doesn’t give enough information. - 0%

1 - Nope, this project definitely doesn’t fit the challenge brief (e.g., It doesn’t help kids younger than 12, isn’t in the U.S., etc.) - 0%

2. Innovation: Does this project tackle children’s wellbeing from a new angle?

5 - I loved this! The project describes a novel model that addresses important cultural or systemic barriers. - 75%

4 - This is pretty cool. The project is addressing an important problem in a new or compelling way. - 0%

3 - I feel like there’s something there, but I want more details about what makes it distinctive. - 0%

2 - It’s a good project, but I’ve seen others like it before. - 25%

1 - It was confusing or hard to tell what it made it different. - 0%

3. Social Impact: What is this project’s potential for creating positive social impact?

5 - Lots of potential. This project is achieving impressive results, and it’s growing quickly. It could absolutely inspire changes in the ways we approach caring for kids nationally, across sectors (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 50%

4 - Pretty good potential. This project demonstrates significant positive impact so far, and it could scale regionally or nationally one day and fundamentally change how a system operates (e.g. childcare, healthcare, education). - 25%

3 - Budding potential. This project is creating local impact, but it would take a few adjustments before it could scale. - 25%

2 - Some potential. This project demonstrates some initial positive impact, but it would require major changes before it could scale. - 0%

1 - Limited potential. This project has great intentions, but it looks like it does not include key drivers of a shift towards children’s wellbeing. - 0%

4. Overall, how do you feel about this idea?

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 75%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 25%

3 - I think the idea is great, but it needs some work before it moves onto the next round. - 0%

2 - I liked it fine but preferred others. - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. Needs significant revisions. - 0%

5. Offer some feedback. Where should this participant spend some time revising?

DEFINING THE PROBLEM. Make sure to articulate the root causes or main barriers of the social issue your project addresses. (Founding Story, Problem, Solution). - 0%

CLARITY OF MODEL. Make sure to mention (a.) the beneficiary, b) the main activities, and c) how those activities drive social impact. Keep it streamlined! - 50%

MARKETPLACE. Make sure to research other players in this space and articulate how this project is different. I didn’t get a complete sense of how this project compares to others. - 50%

IMPACT POTENTIAL. Make sure to use specific numbers to describe what your project has achieved so far! And consider how you might scale the model or its insights, through partnerships, trainings, or franchising. - 100%

WRITING STYLE. Try to stay concise and make it vivid. Avoid jargon. - 0%

Nothing stands out! I thought it was great. - 50%

5 comments

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Photo of Christy
Team

Hands down, this is the best proposal I have evaluated so far. Perhaps because this issue is close to home as an adoptive mother who received her then-foster children along with just the shirt on their backs (as the garbage bag we received was filled with roaches and such). Fortunately, my children were quite young when they arrived and don't recall that harrowing experience. However, having also worked with DCFS involved youth who have been bounced from home to home, this is such an AMAZING idea! So many wards of the state are forced to wear other kids' clothing upon arrival. This is something that all children in foster care need. Thank you for being innovative!

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