OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – For Mvskoke children in the foster care system, they can experience a great deal of change in a short amount of time. Emergency situations can cause foster children to move several times before being reunified with their birth parents or finding a forever home through adoption. During these transitions, they might only be able to carry their belongings in a trash bag. On top of dealing with the anxiety that comes with change, trash bags can unfortunately provide a sense of indignity.
In order to meet the needs of Mvskoke foster children during these transitions, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Children and Family Services Administration (CFSA) held their first luggage drive March 1 at the Council Oak House in downtown Okmulgee.
The need for luggage is vast. According to Acting CFSA Director and CPRT Program Manager Michelle Bender, there are currently around 350 Mvskoke children currently in the foster care system. The department’s goal for the drive was initially 20 luggage items, a goal they surpassed.
“That would take care of 20 children that need a suitcase for when they have to come into custody and move so that they would have something that is theirs to put their belongings in,” Bender said.
CPRT Case Worker Brittani Candioto believes luggage offers structure for foster children. Structure during a time of transitioning through different living situations is important in providing a sense of comfort.
“It’s some type of security because the whole process is overwhelming and their whole life is being disrupted,” Candioto said. “To have something that’s not a trash bag, that they can carry around and make their belongings that they own at the moment feel safe and secure I think gives them some type of security and secure feeling while they transition through what can be a traumatic process.”
Foster care and adoption is one of the many services CFSA provides for the nation through the Certification, Placement, Recruitment & Training (CPRT) program. According to Bender, her department processes applications for families to become licensed resource homes for Mvskoke foster care children.
“CPRT is an all-inclusive program,” Bender said. “We do our recruitment, we do our certification licensure, we also do our own training and we monitor our homes.”
Accepted donations included new or gently used suitcases, duffle bags, backpacks or any other type of luggage. These items all go to Mvskoke children so that they can keep their belongings safe during home transitions, and to do so with a sense of dignity.
If you would like to learn more about CFSA, or how to begin the application process to become a licensed resource home for Mvskoke foster care children, call 918-732-7869.