Billy Bass – Horizon News Editor
Amy Tyson, a supervising caseworker with Saint Francis Community Services’ foster care unit spoke Thursday afternoon during the First Year Experience presentation at Hesston Mennonite Church. Tyson’s visit related the situations in Regina Calcaterra’s book “Etched in Sand” to those faced by foster children in our area and statewide.
The most eye-opening revelation shared in the Q and A-style program? Tyson receives 50-75 placement requests daily, a staggering number considering the 20-25 foster homes available to her. Due to the lack of available placements, clients without a placement are often assigned to the “Kid Zone,” a holding facility, which Tyson says “is not as fun as it sounds.” Kids hang out at the Kid Zone during the day and are sometimes placed in area shelters overnight.
But that’s a worst-case scenario, Tyson said. In most cases St. Francis is able to meet one of three main goals: The first: Return the child to their birth parents if possible. If that is not an option, adoption or kinship placements are sought after as the safest solutions for the child.
On a positive note, Tyson says her day-to-day activities vary greatly, and she attempts to maintain contact with the foster families she works with, providing them with as much support as possible. She also helps in communicating children’s needs with their teachers at school.
“Teachers are usually good at seeing through a front,” she said. “They usually know when something is wrong.”
Luckily, according to Tyson, there aren’t many times where foster home abuse intervention and investigation is required.
For students who want to answer the First Year Experience call to “Be the Change,” Tyson suggests reaching out to area social work agencies to find out what their needs are.