DCHS TALC donated 54 care bags to foster children.

Although it may not be apparent to the public eye, emergency foster care is a growing problem throughout the county. According to Lieutenant Colleen Brooks-Francis of the Dodge City Police Department, at least one child is placed in emergency foster care each week in Dodge City. 

On Thursday, students of the Dodge City High School TALC program donated care bags for children placed in emergency foster care.

“When you take a child out of a situation in an emergency like that, we can’t go back to the house for whatever reason, so they have nothing. They get placed in foster care with literally the clothes on their back,” said Brooks-Francis. “The other thing that can happen is we grab what we can and just throw it in a garbage bag and then give them their stuff in that garbage bag, which is not nice.”

Without having the resources necessary, officers at the DCPD previously had to provide for these children with their personal money.

“We would buy the kids something to eat or go to Walmart and get them a couple outfits or something like that, just so they had something,” said Brooks-Francis. “Our police department has never had the money to fund that, so we’ve all kind of done it on our own because we feel bad for the kids, we’re not going to let them sit there hungry.”

The idea to provide care bags for these children came up when Brooks-Francis made a Facebook post telling the story of a man who lived in foster care as a child. She explained how hard his life was, and how he established a program that provided care bags to children placed in foster care.

From then, Melanie Scott, counselor at DCHS, corresponded with Brooks-Francis to arrange a project with DCHS TALC that would provide care bags to children placed in emergency foster care.

“The whole thing is not fun for the kid to deal with,” said Brooks-Francis. “The backpack kind of gives them, if they have nothing, the essential emergency-type things they would need.”

The DCHS TALC students gathered donations from numerous community members to put together 54 “bags of hope” for these children. The bags contained items such as clothing, hygiene items, snacks and a toy or book based on the age of the child. 

“We were able to give away the first backpack within 12 hours, it was awesome,” said Brooks-Francis. “The little girl was so excited to have just the little things that were in there, the toothbrush, toothpaste and M&M’s, it was like Christmas to her.”

On top of child necessities, baby essentials are also a growing need in the foster care system. The TALC students were able to provide three boxes of diapers, wipes and sippy cups for infants placed in foster care.

“We do get a lot of babies, unfortunately,” said Brooks-Francis. “We have to have all different sizes of diapers on hand and wipes and diaper rash cream, just anything you can think of that you would possibly need for a baby.”

Brooks-Francis expressed her gratitude toward everyone who helped provide for these children.

“On behalf of the whole police department, thank you so much to the Dodge City High School TALC group and Melanie Scott and thanks to all the donors, because they are really making an impact and difference in these kids life,” she said.

According to Brooks-Francis, the DCPD is always looking for non-perishable items to provide for these children.

“Some packaged snacks would be great, things for children like toddlers as they start to eat baby food and things like that, we don’t really have anything for them at all,” she said. “Just snacks and little juice boxes that aren’t going to go bad would be awesome, we always need stuff like that for the kids.”

If you are interested in donating items for children placed in emergency foster care, contact Brooks-Francis at the DCPD at 620-225-8126.

To contact the writer of this story, email egarcia@dodgeglobe.com.