I get that the intent is to save money during budget cuts. I totally get that one needs to save money. I bought second-hand clothing for my children on a pretty frequent basis, and it’s an order of magnitude cheaper to do so.
Here’s the thing:
Buying clothes from second hand stores, while something I’m utterly in favor of on principle make a lousy mandate. You cannot count on getting something the right size in good enough condition when you’re shopping there. You have to have time and be patient. Oh, and shoes that fit properly and are in good enough condition? Forget it. Outwear? When you’re lucky, and you plan ahead to get the coat in June, it can work out great. I got my son a great down jacket for less than ten bucks that way once. In October? Fuggetaboutit.
Foster care situations are urgent situations. The child might need clothing right away. The child might be of a size that one can rarely find second hand clothes for. There might not be the necessary outerwear available.1
The individual proposing the bill comments that he wore lots of hand-me-downs, so what’s the beef?
Well, Sen. Caswell, I wore hand-me-downs from time to time, too. I was even pretty fond of some of them and excited to get them because it they were kinda cool. That doesn’t change the fact that mandating used clothing, while cheaper, has way too many gaps in the system where kids who are already falling through the cracks are going to fall harder.
I’m all for encouraging it as a principle, don’t get me wrong. But if I have a child in my care that needs a warm coat, that kid gets a warm coat no matter where I had to buy it. Just sayin’.
1 Being expensive and long-lasting, really good outerwear often goes first at second hand stores in cold climates like Michigan.