INDIANAPOLIS — Kaylee Thomas knows what it's like growing up as a foster child.
"When you go to a foster home, you don't get to bring anything with you. You get to pack something up in a trash bag, and you just go. And a lot of times, you don't even get to do that," Thomas said.
At 17 years old, she recently aged out of the system. Her mission now is to help others.
"Traveling all the time between foster homes, you never know what you're going to get," Thomas said.
It can be extra hard to come across things that may seem small, like a lack of hair care products.
Thomas says that's a common challenge for Black foster girls.
"For me with my hair, I can do whatever with it, but for kids of color in the system, they can't. They have to have special products, and foster parents just don't provide that," Thomas said.
So, she had an idea: She would work with the Children's Bureau to create hair care baskets, filled with items like special detangling combs, hair gel, shampoo and conditioner. The basket also includes an item just about every girl of color needs.
"My best friend is African-American, and she will tell you she doesn't sleep without her bonnet," Thomas said.
Natural hair for Black girls has many textures, and before using any products, it's important to decode their hair type.
Here are the two main types:
- Type 3 hair: Large, spiral or tight coils.
- Type 4 hair: Kinky hair texture with no real curl pattern. It's the most delicate and needs the most moisture because it's fragile and dryer than other hair types.
Thomas said it's important to educate foster parents who adopt children of color.
"It's not only to educate themselves about the hair care products but also racial equality in general. Being really inclusive and helping other kids of color," Thomas said. "Even though it's something small, it's something so big that it's going to mean the world to them. It makes me feel so good that I can help them with that. This could change someone's life. You never know, and the idea of that makes me feel really good inside."
Thomas said her goal is to collect 50 baskets filled with about $30 worth of hair products.
If you would like to donate to Thomas' cause, call the Children's Bureau at 317-625-6005.
Click here for more information on the Children's Bureau.
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