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Jan. 1, 1970

Conversations with Rob Scheer

Rob and Reece Scheer with their family in front of a red barn

Today, we’d like to introduce you to Rob Scheer.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
At any given time, there are approximately 437,000 youth in foster care in the United States. An estimated 700 children enter the system each day, and most arrive with little more than the clothes on their backs. Those with belongings are often given a trash bag to pack up and carry their life’s treasures.

I experienced this indignity first-hand. Over forty years ago, I entered foster care at the age of 12. Six years later, at the age of 18 and a senior in high school, I returned home from school to find my foster parents at the front door – with that same trash bag in hand. They handed it to me and said, “Go pack your things in this. You need to leave.” I replied, “But this is my home!” I was met with this response from my foster father: “No, this is OUR home. You have just lived here. You’re 18 now, and we no longer receive a check from the government for you. So you have to leave… now.”

I had “aged out” of the foster care system and now was homeless, and again carried my few possessions in a trash bag. After forging forward and having the grit to graduate high school (while still homeless), I joined the U.S. Navy and then moved on to have a successful career as a banker.

Within a few years, my husband Reece and I decided to grow our family by adopting from the foster care system. When our first children (a brother and sister) arrived on our doorstep with their belongings in trash bags, I was floored. How were children in the foster care system still carrying their things in a bag used for trash – the same one I was given so long ago? Why do we treat our children this way?

My family decided to change this practice, and Comfort Cases was born. With the vision of assembling backpacks filled with comfort and personal care items to deliver to local DCFS, the Scheer family (now with four children, all from the foster care system) invited our community to pack some cases. The first Packing Party was held in December 2013, and shortly thereafter, Comfort Cases was established as an official 501(c)3.

Eleven years later, more than 250,000 Comfort Cases® and Comfort XL duffel bags have been distributed to children in foster care in all 50 states, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom, with Comfort CasesUK launched in 2022.

I am the host of “Fostering Change”, a weekly audio and video podcast that brings in guests of prominence who discuss issues regarding foster care, adoption, LGBTQ+ and other timely and topical issues. Now in its 5th season, Fostering Change has been ranked the #1 Podcast for Adoption and Foster Care issues for three consecutive years.

As the author of “A Forever Family: Fostering Change One Child at a Time,” I share the inspiring story of my journey from foster care to foster parenthood and my drive to rebuild a broken system. In May 2022, as someone who never went to college, I received the incredible honor of an Honorary Doctoral Degree, a Doctorate of Humane Letters, from Lynn University, where I also delivered the commencement speech.

My ultimate goal? Every youth in foster care should receive a Comfort Case® upon entering foster care, showing them that they are loved and treated with the dignity we hope ALL children are.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
My road to where I am today has been nothing but a struggle I’ve fought to overcome.

One of 10 children, and then placed in foster care from ages 12-18. Dealing with abuse – both physical and mental. Homeless at age 18 while still in high school. Not going to college (only 3% of youth raised in foster care do), but able to find employment and achieve in the banking and mortgage business prior to founding Comfort Cases, an international non-profit organization.

Trying to adopt and raise five children as a gay parent in a not-always-understanding world. Fighting the system and trying to fix the broken foster care system.

Thanks – so, what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
After leading a successful career as a banker, I founded and am the CEO of Comfort Cases, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2013. The organization is 96% volunteer-run. We work with social service agencies in every state in the US, Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and, as of 2022, in the United Kingdom.

We invite agencies and individuals to come into our National Center and pack cases themselves – it is incredibly rewarding. I also travel the country, speaking to different organizations, sharing my story, and inspiring others to stand up and make a change for youth in foster care. At many of these events, we have “packing parties” where groups as small as a dozen or as large as hundreds will pack up our Comfort Cases. We then arrange for social service agencies from the local community to come and pick up the cases so they can be delivered to those in need locally.

I often talk with major corporations about their “corporate responsibility” to give back to their community – and by “community,” it is just not those within your zip code, but our community nation- or worldwide.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Grit. As a youth raised in foster care, you need grit to survive.

Otherwise, you can fall back, like so many do – to drugs, crime, abuse, or worse. Did you know that more than 80% of those on Death Row were in foster care? The system is broken, and I am working to fix it.

Learn more here. 

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