NEWS | March 10, 2021

Duffle bags filled with essentials give sense of autonomy, dignity to at-risk foster youth

(SACRAMENTO)

When children are discharged from the hospital and go into foster care, they typically leave with their few possessions in a plastic disposable bag. 

A MAARY bag for a toddler includes a blanket, socks and a night light.  A MAARY bag for a toddler includes a blanket, socks and a night light.

Now, thanks to pediatric social workers at UC Davis Children’s Hospital, those children receive a MAARY bag to help during this difficult transition. MAARY is an acronym for Marginalized and At Risk Youth. 

“Our aim is to provide an age-appropriate bag filled with a few personal items and toiletries that marginalized and foster care patients can call their own,” said UC Davis Licensed Clinical Social Worker DeAnne Bilotta Clark. “The goal is to help provide a sense of autonomy and dignity to our marginalized, at-risk and foster youth during an unstable and difficult time in his or her life.” 

MAARY bags are funded through donations made to the UC Davis Patient Assistance Support Fund, which also supports other projects for UC Davis Health patients and families. 

Each duffle bag includes a blanket, a pair of socks, a bag with toiletries (for school age children and older) and a night light for toddlers.   

UC Davis pediatric social workers anticipate that 24-30 pediatric patients a year will benefit from a MAARY bag. Since this program started last November, seven bags have been given out and have been welcomed warmly by these patients. 

“Seeing the smile on a child’s face when given something special they can call their own, this shows the true resiliency our kiddos have, to be able to show joy even in the most traumatic of situations,” Clark said.