David Quist has helped countless children find homes across Tucson. Quist is a supervisor at AmeriPsych, one of 14 agencies that make up the Foster and Adoptive Council of Tucson (FACT), an organization that helps the state and Child Protective Services find homes for children in need. The organization is always looking for people who can open up their homes to a child; call 795-1858, ext. 242, or go to www.tucsonheartsandhomes.org to find more information about FACT and becoming a foster parent. FACT will be holding the Blue Ribbon-Heart Gallery Celebration from 4 to 7 p.m., Saturday, May 1, at Thoroughbred Nissan, 5163 E. 22nd St.
What is FACT, and what do you do?
I supervise a foster-care program. Of the 14 agencies that make up FACT, some are faith-based; there's Christian Family Care (Agency) and Arizona Baptist (Children's Services). Some of the agencies have therapeutic foster homes. The thing is, (the Arizona Department of Economic Security) used to do all the licensing for foster families, but frankly, there are just so many kids that need foster families, it became more financially feasible to contract the work out.
What is your background?
I graduated from Northern Arizona University in 1987, and my degree was in psychology. I've been working in the social and behavioral health field ever since. I was working for Child Protective Services (CPS), and it just seemed like a natural progression to foster care.
Why didn't you stay with CPS?
Doing the work that CPS does can be very frustrating, and it is very hard. Unfortunately, when you are working a case plan, the parents may get their children back, which is great, or the kids may get transferred, but you never see the child again after that. ... You don't get to see that final outcome with CPS, but here, we see it all the time.
What is the most important goal of foster care?
The most important thing is child safety, regardless of whether a child is with a licensed foster member or their own family. We want to find a stable, suitable placement for the child while the family works for reunification, but if that can't happen, then we have to find a permanent placement for that child.
What kinds of adoptions and placements do you find for children?
"Kinship placement" can often be a teacher or someone who has been friends with the family for several years. They at least know the child well. At least a third of our placements are relative placements or kinship placements. When you look at the numbers, relatives comprise the highest number for placements of child care.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
We get families that come in, and a lot of times, they want to adopt this perfect child with no issues—(but) we all have issues. When (families) go through the foster-parent training classes, and they get an idea of what to expect and (then) get their first placement, you find these families that ask, "What do we need to do to get more placements?" Or when ... we don't know much about the child, and families will tell us, "Send them over; we'll take them." It's fantastic when you have people who just enjoy foster care that much. When a child is placed in a permanent adoptive home, it's just fantastic and makes it all worthwhile.
What can people do to help?
On May 1, we have the Blue Ribbon-Heart Gallery celebration. That is an event that we have put on for three years now to celebrate kids in foster care and the families that open their homes to them. It is a free event. ... We encourage the public to come out.
What is your greatest need?
We need foster parents. ... With the economy the way it is, it's more difficult. We need to get people to come to our events, ask questions and get licensed. There are more than 10,000 kids in the state of Arizona without a home. There are less than 4,000 foster parents in the state. Clearly, our need outstrips our resources at this time. Orientations are held twice a month. ... We urge anyone who is interested to attend the orientations. ... We need families for emergency placements and multiple-sibling placements, because we hate to have to tell the state we don't have room, and (we hate) to split up siblings.