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Rainbow Room helps brighten going back to school for foster kids

The "Rainbow Room" is an outreach program of the non-profit Partnerships for Children. (CBS Austin)

Back to school is an exciting time but it is sometimes the hardest part of the year for foster children.

"The beginning of the school year is typically a struggle for our kids," said adoption caseworker Allison McGill.

"For us, it's just really important for the kids to start off the first day with everything they need to feel like every other child," said Marcus Cantu, a community partners coordinator for Partnerships for Children.

Cantu runs the "Rainbow Room," an outreach program of the non-profit Partnerships for Children. It's open 24/7 to caseworkers like McGill.

"This room that we're in is essential to the work that caseworkers do. I can't tell you how many times I've been in this room late at night or early in the morning when you're going through placement changes with kiddos. Where they couldn't take all their things from the last place," said McGill.

For the 2017-2018 school year, the Rainbow Room distributed over a thousand backpacks with school supplies to caseworkers who give the supplies directly to the kids in care.

"I don't ever remember being so excited about pencils but the kids just love something that's theirs," said McGill.

There was one special request too.

"This little girl really wanted a Minnie Mouse (backpack). It was her favorite character ever. I was able to get her a Minnie Mouse backpack and lunchbox to match," said Cantu.

The shelves are stocked by the Central Texas community. Items in the most demand include diapers, pack and plays, car seats and beds. Partnerships for Children updates a list of what it needs the most and also has an Amazon wish list to make it easy to help.

"The community is very integral in what we do," said Cantu.

The Rainbow Room serves over 7,000 children each year with one message in mind.

"There's people out here that care about you and want to make sure you are set up for success," said Cantu.

"Forever Families" airs every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on CBS Austin News and features a child ready for adoption from The Heart Gallery of Central Texas.

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