GOP Michigan Senator Proposes Law To Require Foster Kids To Buy Only Second-Hand Clothes

Michigan’s Republican State Sen. Bruce Caswell wants the poor to dress appropriately to their station in life — that is, with second-hand clothes. Caswell introduced legislation to require children in the state’s foster care system to buy clothes at stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army under restrictive “gift cards” that would give $79 clothing allowance for the kids. Caswell is the chairman of the DHS Appropriations Subcommittee.

Caswell believes that poor children should not be better dressed than he was:

“I never had anything new,” Caswell says. “I got all the hand-me-downs. And my dad, he did a lot of shopping at the Salvation Army, and his comment was — and quite frankly it’s true — once you’re out of the store and you walk down the street, nobody knows where you bought your clothes.”

Everyone except Caswell, that is.

The legislation was pulled from a bill at the last minute, according to the article below.

Source:Michigan Messenger

41 thoughts on “GOP Michigan Senator Proposes Law To Require Foster Kids To Buy Only Second-Hand Clothes

  1. My only question is whether there is currently a stipend given to foster families for clothing, or would this be in addition to the meager stipend given out to foster families to care for the child.

    My mother provided foster care and was responsible for coming up with clothes for a wide range of age groups in both genders, and an allotment from the state to buy clothes would have really helped.

    While this makes for a great headline (if you’re looking to attack a Republican elected official) it doesn’t seem to convey the whole story.

  2. Does Hillsdale County ring any bells…..Lots of inbreeding there…self copulation too… then some like to see where they have been…and try and go back….

  3. OK, Caswell’s fashion sense aside (that looks like a very ill-fitting, Goodwill creation in the picture), I cannot even begin to yell loud enough at this dude. How to easily make a person know that he/she is lesser? Make them wear ugly old clothes, ill-fitting. Has he never read Harry Potter? Has he never seen Zorro, the Gay Blade: “There is no sin in being poor, only in dressing poorly”.

    I’ve spent a few years discussing things like this w/my therapist. The wolves who raised me did their best, the alpha was my gram. My mother, who had another child in the second marriage, dressed my bro in the best from the most exclusive shop in Santa Monica and found me things to wear at Salvation Army. We were not poor, but she was poor in her own heart and soul and took it out on me. If I had been less educated or a person equal to my mother’s mein, I would have been violent, perhaps a criminal. My gram couldn’t afford to re-dress me, but she helped with love and a few dollars here and there so that I could go to downtown Los Angeles on the bus and get fashionable clothing that was new and less expensive at the schmatze outlets.

  4. Another Republican for smaller government.

    Whatever that is supposed to mean. Maybe it means foster kids should have to go to technical training schools instead of expensive high schools and colleges. Teach ’em some limousine maintenance and how to scrape barnacles off a yacht. Or how to be a chimney sweep at a poorhouse.

  5. I lived the first seven years of my life in Hillsdale County in a town called Litchfield. This man is typical of those who believe because he “suffered,” so should everyone else. I knew many of these personalities in Michigan, and still call many of them dear friends. They are appalled at what is happening to their state as the government begins to shutter towns, relieving their citizens from the awful burden of being represented locally. But they have no idea what to do about it, so they fall back on the Old Saws: We had it coming.

    I lived for many years in a town called Jackson (the birthplace of the Republican party — there’s a rock somewhere in town commemorating the event) that, like most of Michigan, had a hey-day in some remote past, but no more, and not for a long time. Like many places, it looks like an economic bomb went off continuously each year for 50 years.

    Deprivation is part of the psyche of Michigan. “Well, we did without, and so will you.” Most of what my own family “did without” was education. Smarts were not appreciated in Hillsdale County. That fine tradition seems alive and well today.

  6. As disturbing as the Senator’s comments are, even more disturbing to me are the number of people that really do think this is a good idea. After all, what’s wrong with trying to save a little money?

    And I’ll bet there are a lot of them – all wearing their Brooks Brother suits and $100 silk ties.

    I think a lot of Republicans really do like the thought of a caste system in America. Now if they could just find another word for it.

  7. Most modern human beings strive to protect and improve the lives of the young. Caswell is obviously living a pre-Dicken’s existence as are all those who voted to put him in office. Hopefully there is a special place in Hades for each and every one of them.

  8. As I thought a little more about my previous post I decided to amend my words somewhat so as not to give the wrong impression. Goodwill, the Salvation Army, and others like them provide a great service and I certainly do not wish to demean their institutions and the benefits they provide for those in need.

    It is Caswell’s reasoning that I find so appalling.

  9. And what an excellent example of the power of dress young Oliver Twist was. Wrapped in the blanket which had hitherto formed his only covering, he might have been the child of a nobleman or a beggar; – it would have been hard for the haughtiest stranger to have fixed his station in society. But now he was enveloped in the old calico robes, that had grown yellow in the same service; he was badged and ticketed, and fell into his place at once – a parish child – the orphan of a workhouse – the humble, half-starved drudge – to be cuffed and buffeted through the world, despised by all, and pitied by none.

    ~~~Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist, Ch. 1, Para. 14)

    […] as Oliver looked out of the parlour window, and saw the Jew roll [his old clothes] up in his bag and walk away, he felt quite delighted to think that they were safely gone, and that there was now no possible danger of his ever being able to wear them again. They were sad rags, to tell the truth; and Oliver had never had a new suit before.

    ~~Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist, Ch. 14, Para. 8)

    I thought I read Senator Caswell’s words before… and then there’s this passage from Dickens, speaking about someone remarkably like Caswell:

    Such is the influence which the condition of our own thoughts exercises even over the appearance of external objects. Men who look on nature and their fellow men, and cry that all is dark and gloomy, are in the right; but the somber colours are reflections from their own jaundiced vision.

    ~Charles Dickens (Oliver Twist, Ch. 34, Para. 60)

  10. I am suspicious of Representative Caswell’s stated humanitarian, thrift loving motivations. If an idea is a good one, it should be good enough for every child. Why is it only a good idea for foster children? Shouldn’t every child be forced to get their clothing from Goodwill and the Salvation army?

    Also, isn’t it a Commie idea to force people to buy at certain stores and not give them a free choice to consume from whatever store they please. I don’t know, but that definitely sounds suspiciously like socialism to me. Is Caswell secretly Red?

  11. Here are a couple of disturbing stories out of Michigan courtesy of Rachel Maddow:

    Maddow on Emergency Manager Takeover of Benton Harbor, Michigan

    Benton Harbour’s “Catherine Ferguson Academy” to be closed under new GOP legislation

  12. VIDEO: Michigan Town Hall Attendees Demand ‘Higher Business Tax’ Instead of Snyder’s Education Cuts
    Think Progress, 4/25/2011

    Angry residents confronted Republican state Sen. Tom Casperson at a town hall last week over his support for Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) proposed budget, which — like those of many other GOP governors — would slash funding for education while cutting corporate taxes. Snyder’s budget would cut spending on education by $471 per student and reduce teachers’ pay and benefits. Yet while students and teachers are asked to sacrifice, Snyder’s budget would give huge tax breaks to businesses in the form of a flat 6 percent corporate tax rate.

    At Casperson’s town hall in Marquette, Ishpeming school board member Mike Flynn joined numerous other constituents in speaking out against the cuts. Flynn said his district is already struggling to make ends meet, having shut down its middle school, laid off teachers and staff, and privatized its bus and custodial services. Flynn asked those in attendance to stand if the oppose education cuts. “Nearly everyone in the room jumped to their feet while cheering and clapping,” the Maquette Mining Journal reported.

  13. To compel foster kids to wear second-hand clothes exclusively is certainly demeaning, but Caswell has the kernel of a good idea. The State should encourage foster parents to stretch their clothing budgets, and a clothing stipend tied to a thrift-store-only “gift” card is one way of doing it. (The clothing allowance for forster kids should have room for the occasional new garment.)

    As every parent knows, children often outgrow clothes before they wear out. Only the wealthy turn up their noses at hand-me-downs.

    And the fact is, Goodwill and the other thrift stores are one of the greatest bargains going! Sure, there are ugly garments on their racks. But you can also find plenty of attractive, brand-name merchandise in nearly-new condition. (Sometimes really new. Dirty secret for seniors: you can find never-worn clothes at Goodwill because the owners died before wearing them. You also see kids’ clothes that were bought too soon or too small.) I have half a dozen J. Crew shirts bought at Goodwill for the price of one new one. And nobody can tell they weren’t bought new.

    For casual wear – and that’s most of what kids wear – clothes from Goodwill, carefully selected, will not betray their origin. We aren’t talking about rags here. Better for a kid to have five shirts from Goodwill than wear the same thing every day. The latter betrays poverty much more.

  14. OMG!!! Are you kidding me??? Foster Care Children deserve to be treated as ANY child should be treated. To make it law that these children MUST wear hand-me-down clothing is outrages!!! Where do we come up with these guys??? I sure would have not voted him!!! You can tell he is a Republican, so much compassion here!!!!!

  15. Yes, you CAN find amazing stuff at the Goodwill/SallyAnn/St Vincents. But it takes TIME, going often and spending hours per visit to find the reasonable stuff. And gasoline, to get to thos stores. Whose time? Surely the foster parents have better things to do with their time (help with homework, cook decent economical meals at home instead of buying junk food, provide emotional and psychological support and comfort, go to their own jobs, etc.) than to endlessly troll the aisles in the second-hand stores.

  16. Carswell probably considers himself a good Christian, but is demeaning poor children one of the Beatitudes? Blessed be the politician who demeans the poor children as he will reach the kingdom of God? I think NOT! This reminds me of the Teapublican who wants to get rid of child labor laws. Wasn’t that in Maine?

  17. After dropping this stupid idea, ol’ Bruce now wants our “input”:

    “My sole goal in this proposal is to make sure that children receive the clothing allowance that the state has provided for them and not have it used for anything else,” said Caswell. “I believe this solution will go a long way to achieving that objective. If anyone else has a better idea on how we can ensure the money goes for clothing alone, I very much welcome those suggestions and urge you to share your ideas with me. I appreciate the input I have already received that has resulted in making the proposal better.”

    My suggestion:
    How’s about we work on making sure Replicons don’t feather the nests of their corporate masters will billions of taxpayer dollars, before we set our sites on the critical public policy question of how to safeguard the princely sum of $80.00 per year per child for clothing.

  18. Oh! Those wacky Compassionate Christian Conservatives! The fun never ends. How about making the kids bob for apples before the parents get their food stamps! And how about making poor people wear a yellow star on their clothing so we know who they are! HaHaHaHaHa! Oh, excuse me- gotta run- I’m late for church.

  19. how long do we have to suffer these ‘leaders’ who run around with their heads up their own asses all the while thinking they see light?

  20. I like3d his reasoning: I didn’t have nice stuff when I was a kid!

    By that reasoning nobody can have more than the poorest of us – does the name Karl Marx ring a bell? I hope this asshole chokes to death on his 5 martini dinner.

  21. MOMMIE, i donwanna were that underware,it makes me itch

    and they should only get second hand heat and second hand food, the good stuff should only go to the good children.

  22. This is IMO a craven political stunt that has no basis in reality. This is an issue like the ‘welfare queen’ that rolls up to the welfare office in a cadillac. It was a non-issue he could seize on to make political points with a narrow, small-minded group of voters.

    I used to spend a lot of time in the Goodwill-type shops and any other ‘seconds’ shop I could find. I was looking for antiques and collectables but I also would buy cloths depending on the ‘style’ (or lack there-of) I was going through. I did spend time in the clothing sections so I got to see what went on there.

    The clothing isles were never empty of mothers with their kid including school age kids, or women with carts piled precariously high with children’s clothing in sizes from ‘infant’ to ‘young adult’. Kids clothes were hot items. Even the working women I worked with that made ‘good’ money and had kids shopped the second-hand shops for kids clothing. I’d see them do it. Kids grow fast and keeping them in cloths is an expensive operation.

    If this elected Grinch thinks that foster parents are getting their monthly foster care check and taking it to the local full price clothing stores and boutique’s to buy new cloths for their kids then he’s simply not in touch with reality or he’s an opportunist, playing to the grinch-inclined voters. I suspect it’s the latter.

  23. The allowances that foster parents receive for food, clothing, etc. are fairly meager. It’s doubtful that these children, who typically have been removed from neglectful or abusive homes aren’t getting outfitted at Nordstrom.The GOP campaign to turn any entitlement (or insurance program) into “welfare” clearly has exhausted its targets but not its perpetrators. In swing states, the biggest grandstanders on this stuff tend to be rural Republicans who represent districts with substantial amounts of poverty.

  24. I work with foster kids… let’s see…we’ll just let them live in homes where they are abused and neglected. Remove them to live in foster homes (fingers crossed they get a good one) and then add to their already shattered self-esteem and feelings of self-worth and allow them to ONLY where second hand clothes. Really?

  25. This is a silly article about a silly proposal that twists the quote totally out of contect. He proposes a $79 clothing allowance via a gift card restricted to a cheap store simply as a way to get more bang for the taxpayer’s buck… His quote is simply stating his personal frugal beliefs – he grew up perfectly happy using second-hand clothes. This is not about a Republican saying foster kids must only shop in certain stores, but an ill-thought out idea of how to stretch the limited resources available for these programs.
    The valid critisism of this of the libertarian angle that it would be yet more excessive government micro-management… we trust these foster parents to take care of these kids, but we don’t trust their judgement of where to buy the kids’ clothes? As a Republican, he should know better.
    And as for all you liberal partisans jumping up and down howling that this is another example of Republicans wanting to impose class restrictions and distinctions, you should know better too.

  26. @Benjamin May – Yes, Foster kids get a stipend, at least they did 10 years ago – a Teenager got $200 for clothing twice a year, around when school starts and again around when summer starts. Which when a kid goes from “failure-to-thrive” to getting regular meals in addition to normal growth spurts, $200 really isn’t that much in the scheme of things.

  27. “then add to their already shattered self-esteem and feelings of self-worth and allow them to ONLY where second hand clothes. Really?”

    Having also worked in Child Welfare and the foster Care System I can attest that Dana knows what she/he is talking about. Despite the many dedicated people who work in these systems, they are and always have been a disgrace. Thank you Mespo for the Dickens quotes, because overall the foster care system is Dickensian in nature. This derives from politicians who are quick to favor those with cash and likewise to ignore the needs of innocents. All these anti-abortion types do little to reform the system to which they have now negatively contributed by expanding its population. Sadly, they deem themselves pious, when in fact they are slow witted frauds, lacking the intelligence to understand their own culpability.

    I’m not suggesting that abortion is the answer, but the truth is that the anti-abortionist (anti-life) movement also objects to distribution of information and methodology to ensure birth control. Concomitant with this is that another contribution to foster care comes from abuse/neglect removals. If the state has a duty to protect children from these horrid depredations, then it also has a duty to take care of the children affected and removed from the horror. This duty extends to providing a lot more than just barely adequate care.

  28. Not a damn thing wrong with second hand clothes as that’s what we had in the 50s. It’s fricking 2011 and I paid my dues to keep this state going. Foster children nowadays deserve the same as everyone else out there, especially when parents are buying/using every technological thing agoing.

  29. @ Dana…I agree with you 100%!!! Most of these poor children have already been put through hell and have no idea if they are coming or going. I volunteered at the Goodwill by my house just recently, and the clothes are not nice at all. I am not against second-hand, but come on now. These chldren deserve better, and putting them in ‘hand-me-donws’ is only going to bring there self-esteem down even more. It sounds to me like this guy is just jealous, because he didn’t have nice things when he was growing up. Well that isn’t everybody else’s fault, and he should not be taking his ‘growing up’ on the children today. I myself am not rich my any means and am considered poor, so I took much offense to this ‘garbage’ he is talking. Even being poor, my children still don’t wear second hand clothing though. I want them to feel good about themselves. When I read this it made me sick, and I will be even sicker if it passes!!!!

  30. I grew up in foster care and was shuttled around to eleven different homes. Of all eleven homes only one set of foster parents actually bought me and my siblings new clothes with the stipend that the state furnished for clothing. The other ten sets of foster parents spent the money on their biological children and we foster kids wore horrid thrift store cast-off clothing. So foster kids already know what “second hand” is. Senator Caswell should not have made his distain for foster children so apparent to the public eye. By the way- I was in foster care because my mother caught polio and not because I was a hoodlum. I have never even had a parking ticket in my life. I lead a normal life, work hard, pay taxes, and raised my children to be good citizens. My mother taught me that and not the foster care system. That said- I do shop where the best American made bargains are whether they are in thrift stores or department stores. Foster parents should shop at the same places for all the children in their home and not single out foster kids for “second best”. That is child abuse.

  31. Dude, jsut because YOU have issues about your upbringing, it doesn’t mean you have to inflict your psychosis’s on the rest of us. Resign your office and go see a professional.

  32. @ Sean D.
    To say that it is a silly article, it’s not. It’s absolutely ridiculous. There are a ton of problems that a foster child faces and then to be made to feel that they are somehow less is making them to suffer even more abuse. Maybe a good human being wouldn’t say anything to a child dressed in nasty old clothes, but if you think children in middle school and high school are good human beings then you are sadly mistaken.
    From the time I was 13, I was in foster care. I had come up from Florida in the middle of the winter here in Michigan and I did not have the appropriate clothing for the weather here. The state gave my foster parents 500 dollars to buy me an entire new wardrobe and I maybe got to spend 150 of it at salvation army and other second hand stores. The other 350 dollars went into the foster parents pocket to buy their cigarettes and other things that had nothing to do with my care.
    The foster care system needs a total overhaul. This is just part of the truth being spat into people’s face. But, I’m sure that people will forget all about this and let it go because even though children are the future of this nation, we would rather forget them than protect them.
    And not every child is taken from a bad parent. I had better clothes and better care with my mother than I ever did in foster care. And if that isn’t the state abusing it’s power, I don’t know what is.

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