CLAREMONT — Kids need parents, and they need pajamas. A local pajama drive aims to bring them more of both. With a high need in this area for foster parents, local organizations are teaming up to recruit foster parents and at the same time, supply kids in foster care with essential items.
On Sept. 28 the Claremont-Sugar River Rotary joins the Department of Child, Youth and Families (DCYF) and the Independent Services Network to hold a pajama-drive from 8 a.m. to noon at Claremont Savings Bank on Broad Street, Claremont. In addition to collecting pajamas for foster children from ages 0 to 18 or even to age 21, Porter said, child services representatives will talk with people interested in becoming foster parents.
The partners will also hold a recruitment event on Oct. 6 at REMIX on Pleasant Street, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. called Foster Love. Kayla Coffran, coordinator for Independent Services Network in the Greater Claremont area, said the speakers will include current foster parents and possibly some children, who will share their personal experiences to hopefully inspire others to get involved.
Tammy Porter, president of the Rotary, said many children arrive at their foster home without essentials. Children are often scooped from the home with a bag haphazardly filled with clothes that either don’t fit or meet the seasonal need.
“We chose to collect pajamas just because they are comfortable,” Porter said. “Everyone feels cozy in pajamas.”
As a longtime foster parent, Porter understands the particular need of foster children to feel comfortable and safe. She has provided foster care to at least six children over time, aging from infants to five years old, including her adopted daughter Aurora, now age 3.
“Someone might ask how I can take a child into my home knowing that one day they will leave,” Porter said. “I see it as an opportunity to provide a stable and loving environment, and to make a difference in a child’s life, even for a short time. That’s my reward.”
Having available local foster families allows children to remain within their community, which minimizes some of the child’s stress during the difficult period.
“It’s really sad when children have to be sent to other communities for foster care,” Porter said. “Not only do they lose day-to-day contact with their parent, but their friendships, or maybe their daycare or school. It completely uproots them.”
People may also donate pajamas now by bringing them to one of the Rotary’s collection boxes inside the following location: the Claremont Spice and Dry Goods,Tremont Street; Mascoma Bank, Broad Street; or Claremont Savings Bank, Broad Street branch. Pajamas may either be new or gently worn, and be of any variety or age group.
Coffran said there are multiple steps to becoming a foster parent. Applicants must be at least 25 years old and have adequate space in their home (usually an empty bedroom, Coffran said). Home occupants ages 18 and older must pass a state and federal background check, and the home must pass a fire and safety inspection.
Porter said that because she has well water, she had to have a well water safety test.
Applicants must also complete a certified course in fostering. The course consists of seven sessions, each running three hours. The sessions are typically scheduled weekly, for a total length lasting two months. Coffran said that courses are offered in locations across New Hampshire, and that a course will soon become available to take in Claremont.