Jones said new admissions were Closet’s priority, to treat them with dignity as soon as possible. “We try to serve them as quickly as possible because we are aware that some of them arrive with nothing or an empty garbage bag,” she said.
Clothing, toys and supplies are not all Closet has to offer. Part of the establishment is in the process of being transformed. Furniture and appliances are added to transform the back of the closet into what the organization calls a “refuge.”
Shelters are designed to be just that. âInstead of the kids being in a car or cabin, they can relax freely,â Jones said. Children will have space to sit and relax, to watch TV and read a book or play with toys. They could also prepare a meal or have snacks. These all serve as distractions from any traumatic conversations foster care specialists might have about where to place them.
Jones estimated that the shelter will accommodate up to eight children, depending on their age. They could stay as little as a few hours to a few weeks, if needed.
There are five Foster CARE Closets across Nebraska. Besides Scottsbluff, they are located in Lincoln, North Platte, Kearney and Beatrice. Currently, only the Lincoln and North Platte sites have functional refuge sites. These are “running at full speed,” Jones said. She expects the Scottsbluff shelter to be operational in about a year.