It all started on a typical day at Boston Medical Center when we met a smart, engaging, brave 8 year old boy. He arrived with a thoughtful, good mom who relapsed on heroin.
Mom arrived asked us to call her social worker so that her child would be placed into a safe home while she sought treatment. We contacted her social worker, filed a 51A. A 51A is a written and verbal reporting mechanism given to the Department of Children and Families to request services, evaluation and some case emergency placement of children who are in imminent danger. The cute kid, despite effort had no where to go. No family and a mom who was unable to care for him at this time. He waited in our emergency department while DCF make plans to place him in an emergency foster home.
The ED staff was hopeful for his life to improve but in many ways it really tears at your life tapestry. We feel sad about him leaving our care with nothing to take with him. It was around the holiday so as luck would have it, we had some donated items in the hospital. We put together a backpack with supplies for the next 24 hours. We gathered a new backpack, a few toys and pajamas.
We weren’t prepared for what he said after he went through the bag. He commented on the items and the lego but he looked at us and said “Thank you so much for this backpack. Now I can go to school tomorrow!”
Despite the chaos and his separation from his mom, the thing on his mind was getting back to his kid life.
Then we got to thinking…why can’t we do this for all kids placed from the ED into custody? The brainstorming started and we began to talk about it to others.