National Council For Adoption is proud to present the 2019 Warren and Mary Alice Babineaux Award to Rob Scheer in recognition of his continued commitment to creating positive change in the lives of children in foster care who need permanent families.
As a child, Rob Scheer was placed in foster care and arrived at a house full of strangers with a beaten and torn trash bag filled with his belongings. He described his transition into foster care as a form of mental abuse: the feeling that you are not wanted or loved. When he became 18, he “aged out” of the system, left homeless. Statistically, Rob should have struggled with drug abuse, dropped out of school, or become incarcerated, but instead he chose to dedicate himself to a purpose by becoming an advocate for children and youth in foster care.
When Rob and Reece Scheer welcomed four children into their home through foster care, each one arrived with a torn trash bag. Rob was shocked and saddened that so little had changed over the years, which inspired him to create a better option for thousands of children. Comfort Cases are bags and backpacks that contain the essentials for children in foster care. Each case has both hygiene kits (soap, shampoo, toothbrush, etc.) and age-specific comfort items, such as books, journals, and blankets. Rob’s goal is to help children in foster care feel safe and comforted through uncomfortable and oftentimes scary transitions.
Since its founding in 2013, Comfort Cases have reached 39 states in the U.S. Over 40,000 youths have received a care package from Rob’s organization. In 2017 alone, 11,219 Comfort Cases were delivered to children of all ages—from babies to teenagers—giving them a small gift of love and helping preserve their dignity as they enter new foster home. His next goal is to provide support for higher education for those who are aging out of care.
Rob recently published A Forever Family: Fostering Change One Child at a Time in November 2018. It is a memoir of his childhood and the discrimination he and his husband would later face when adopting their children. With frequent speaking engagements, his story has inspired millions. He has appeared on Upworthy, with over 130 million views on his viral video, as well as on the Today Show, The Ellen Show, and more.
“Comfort Cases’ motto is #NoMoreTrashBags and they are truly committed to making that goal a reality,” says NCFA president and CEO, Chuck Johnson. “In just five years, it is incredible to see the impact that Rob and his team have had—including the outpouring of compassion from thousands of volunteers and Comfort Cases Ambassadors across the country who pack bags and deliver them in their communities. Rob serves as an example that everyone can do something to help children in foster care, whether it’s the life-changing commitment of adopting a child or something as seemingly small as donating blankets and bags. NCFA is proud to honor Rob’s work with the 2019 Babineaux Award and we look forward to watching Comfort Cases grow to serve more children and youth in foster care in the years to come.”
About Foster Care
According to the most recent report from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are currently 442,995 children in U.S. foster care. Of these children, 123,437 are waiting to be adopted. The number of waiting children has reached a nine-year high, with a 13% increase in parental drug abuse cases playing a major role in this increase. Nearly 20,000 youth aged out of foster care this year and will navigate adulthood without the financial, educational, social, and psychological support they need to thrive. This is a national tragedy that must be addressed, as the outcomes for foster youth who age out of care are bleak. With no stable support system, these young adults are at high risk of homelessness, substance abuse, pregnancy, and incarceration.
About The Warren and Mary Alice Babineaux Award
Established in 2015, the Warren and Mary Alice Babineaux Award honors individuals and organizations that have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure children experience the love and stability that come with a forever family. This award is given to those who have demonstrated the most selfless commitment to providing resources, education, and leadership to address the many challenges including parent recruitment, training, and support services necessary to give children safe, stable, and loving adoptive families. The Warren and Mary Alice Babineaux Award acknowledges the dedicated efforts of those who have generously given their time, talents, and resources to ensure that all children can “come home” to a loving, forever family. The award is named for Adoption Hall of Fame recipients Warren and Mary Alice Babineaux who cared for more than 100 children in foster care during their decades-long tenure as foster and adoptive parents in Louisiana.
- 2015: Governor John Kasich of Ohio and Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado
- 2016: Former foster youth Sixto Cancel and Nicole Marchman
- 2017: NBC4 Washington’s Barbara Harrison and Mississippi’s Executive Director of the Division of Family and Children’s Services Dr. David Chandler
- 2018: Lifelong adoption advocate Joe Kroll
- 2019: Country music artist Jimmy Wayne and author and co-founder of Comfort Cases Robert Scheer