Michigan GOP: Foster Kids Only Get Used Clothes

According to the Michigan Messenger, State Sen. Bruce Caswell’s (R) budget proposal would force children in the state’s foster care system to purchase clothing only in used clothing stores.

Children who are placed in foster care receive a state-funded clothing allowance.  Under Caswell’s plan, foster children would receive gift cards redeemable only at places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army.  Caswell insists the proposal has nothing to do with stigmatizing poor children and everything to do with saving the state money.

Not surprisingly, human services professionals see the proposal differently.  Gilda Jacobs, CEO of the Michigan League for Human Services called the plan a shot at the dignity of foster children and one that is especially cruel given how difficult a circumstance these children find themselves in.

Just like the battle in Benton Harbor, Caswell’s proposal shows the single-focused attack on the poor and politically powerless that has come to define the current breed of Republicans.  Reasonable checks and transparency in the administration of public benefits is one thing, but Caswell’s proposal is hardly that.  It is a pronouncement on the value of these kids, poor and almost homeless usually through no fault their own.

And like all of these Republican initiatives against the poor, it a “solution” in search of a problem.  It is not clear just how much Michigan spends on clothing for foster kids nor is is clear just how much this plan would save.  That fact alone offers all the proof needed that fiscal austerity is just another dog whistle for social engineering.


photo courtesy of thomas_sly via Flickr


Mary Beth M.
MaryBeth M6 years ago

Two thoughts on this: 1. Typical GOP response to the poor-less is best. If you can get away with giving the next to nothing or better yet, nothing at all, then do it. Cheap, cold hearted SOB's.
2. As a mom of 4, I shop at second hand/thrift shops all the time-quality varies widely from brand new with tags high quality clothes to stuff that should be thrown away. There is often an abundance of baby/toddler clothes, shoes, dressier clothes, some coats and usually adult clothes; however, depending on location, kids' clothes are often in poorer condition-stains, tears and general wear. Kids are hard on clothes. It takes determination and perseverance to shop 2nd hand. Will all foster parents show such dedication? Not fair to the kids.
If the cheap bastards want to save money, give the kids gift cards to Walmart. It may not be the best quality, but at least it's new and clean.

Martha K.
Martha K.6 years ago

All my clothes are used. So are yours, unless you have some you have purchased new and never worn. Many items in thrift stores are of far higher quality than "resource families" (latest silly euphemism for foster parents) buy for foster children. Thrift stores recycle useful and attractive clothing, and many of us stretch our clothing budgets there. How would anyone know something you wear was bought at a resale shop? Much of the clothing in resale shops was worn little or not at all before the original owner gained or lost weight--or in some cases, died. Much was given as a gift but was not the recipient's style choice, or size. Much was bought by mail or online and fit and look didn't turn out as hoped but the buyer did not save paperwork or bother with returning it. This is a great clothing budget stretcher for everyone, and does not need to carry any stigma at all, looked at sensibly. Besides, many resale stores (Goodwill, for example) provide training and employment for persons with disabilities, which both donors and shoppers help support, providing an additional social benefit.

janet T.
janet t6 years ago

I loved hand-me-downs when I was a kid and my children and grandchildren have all worn clothes from thrift shops and garage sales. They used to be better clothes. However, it is disgusting that the state government thinks that should be their only choice when the quality in the thrift shops is falling.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari L7 years ago

I can't imagine the saving of public money with a proposal like this will do any significant change in the budget as a whole. What would actually be a great idea is a sigificant cut in the politicians salaries, specially those that come up with incredibly stupid ideas and those who attack the poor, unemployed and sick!

William Y.
William Y8 years ago

@ Grace Johnson, evidently the GOP thinks anyone who is not in the super upperclass 1% of the population is a second class citizen.

Grace Johnson
Grace Johnson8 years ago

nothing wrong with thrift shops and they are helpful but this should not be the only choice they have, its hard enough for these kids they already feel unwanted and that alone is such a sad thing for them by saying they can only buy clothes at a second hand store tells them that they are only worth second hand stuff what a terrible idea

Antoinette Reyes
Antoinette R8 years ago

Wow I can't believe he would propose such a thing =o

Andy W.
Andy W.8 years ago

As a former foster youth this proposal disgusts me only because the hardest part about being a foster youth is feeling neglected and unwanted. I am disappointed that anyone would want to make the kids that have nothing feel as if they have even less than they already do and though I agree the economy is tough making a child that already has been neglected wear clothes that have already been worn and often times worn out is just as neglectful as the things that caused that child to end up in foster care. I personally would refuse to wear clothes that weren't purchased brand new. I am appalled that anyone who says they are trying help better the life of a child could recommend such a proposal.

Lynn Mitchell
Lynn Mitchell8 years ago

my kids/grandkids get hand me downs. my favorite place to shop is at salvation army, and thrift stores. my kids// grandkids do not do poorly in school because of it, their friends don't tease them because of it. they too get second hand clothes.

Lynne B.
Lynne Buckley8 years ago

The children in foster care are innocents caught up in a situation they have no control over. Treating them as second class citizens by not giving them an opportunity to purchase new clothes is awful. Why must the GOP keep treating the poor like they are second class citizens all the time? Oh, that's right; they're on the payroll on the rich.