Please, Sir, Can I Have Some More?

Michigan is proposing a law that says that foster children can only have clothing bought from second hand stores.

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.

2 Replies to “Please, Sir, Can I Have Some More?”

  1. They should name that the “Foster Children Don’t Need Underwear” bill.

    How utterly callous and despicable. There are so many ways a state senate could negotiate that (including, for example, negotiating a volume discount among the more fashionable retailers).

  2. What in the hell? All of what you said, and the “ew” to thrifted undies as well. Oh, my God. And what if a foster parent has enough money and wants to buy a kid nice clothes? What, is someone going to report that parent for having the gall to shop at Sears instead of Goodwill? Someone bought into a lot of myths about foster parents’ demographics, I see.

    Speaking as the kid who was dressed funny in *firsthand* clothes, I can’t imagine the crap MI foster kids are going to have to put up with if they can only wear what’s available at the local thrift store. There’s enough that sets foster kids apart from their peers that we don’t need to go to extra lengths to render them even more separate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.