PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An Oregon organization is pushing for a state measure that would make luggage more accessible for foster children who often use garbage bags when transporting their personal belongings from foster home to foster home.
The Child Welfare Data Book, published by the Oregon Department of Human Services, shows that 8,620 children spent at least one day in foster care in 2021. And according to Boys & Girls Aid, some children move to more than 15 homes throughout their time in foster care.
Oregon nonprofit Project Never Again, founded by Seema Steffany, aims to make the moving process easier for children in foster care by giving them reusable duffel bags instead of disposable trash bags.
“Child protective caseworkers often use garbage bags to carry children’s belongings as they enter foster care,” the organization said. “Imagine a child walking up to their foster family with a garbage bag in tow. The optics of this would leave a child feeling humiliated and discarded.”
Project Never Again accepts donations that go toward new duffle bags, luggage tags and courage cards for children in foster care. So far, the nonprofit says it has delivered over 12,000 duffel bags to children served by the Oregon Youth Authority and Office of Child Welfare.
But now, the organization is hoping to expand its mission with Senate Bill 548. The measure calls on ODHS to keep an inventory of luggage that would be made available to foster children on the move.
Sen. Janeen Sollman, D-Hillsboro, Republican Rep. Anna Scharf and Republican Rep. Lily Morgan are all chief sponsors on the bill.
In February, Project Never Again testified before the Senate Committee on Human Services to advocate for SB 548. More recently, the nonprofit’s founder and president spoke at the House Committee Public Hearing on Monday, April 24.
“There are many amazing foster care nonprofits in Oregon and I know we all strive to support vulnerable children,” Sollman said. “However, the concern at hand is not that the community won’t help. The question is why should dignity be an option and at the mercy of charitable donations for children in foster care.”