At St. Vincent Catholic Charities (STVCC), we are grateful for two child psychiatrists that make our mission of providing help and creating hope possible. Combining 82 years of practice in psychological and psychiatric support, Dr. Andrew Homa and Dr. Louis Anstett go beyond expectations in their work for the counseling services of the agency, each respectively responsible for the Children’s Home and the Foster Care programs.
Both Dr. Homa and Dr. Anstett grew up in Downriver Detroit, attended Michigan State University (MSU) and followed a similar career path that led them from MSU to STVCC. Dr. Homa began working at STVCC in 1981 and Dr. Anstett followed four years later.
“Now that I am retired, STVCC was my first place and it’s going to be the last!” said Dr. Homa.
Most of the children arrive at STVCC’s Children’s Home with anxiety and depression from the abuse and neglect they’ve experienced that lead to behavioral problems, which can be a challenge for the staff.
“It’s important to be mindful of the regrettable tragic experiences a lot of the kids have and use that understanding when dealing with their emotional turmoil and disruptive behavior,” said Dr. Homa. “We have to continually try to remember there is a good reason for that. We know we can’t erase everything from the child’s history, but what we can do now is help the kids cope. We can help them prepare for the future.”
Dr. Anstett added, “If not most of the kids that come here, not only in residential, but also in foster care, this is the first time they have been with an adult that is not abusive. That’s impactful and really important to have these good people in these positions working with the kids. “
Dr. Homa and Dr. Anstett meet regularly with the staff to discuss cases, treatments, consultation and supervision. Gina Snoeyink, Director of Children’s Services, expresses her admiration for the quality of work and the two psychiatrists’ dedication to the children’s well-being.
“We are so lucky to have them. Both Dr. Homa and Dr. Anstett are very open to the staff coming in, bouncing cases off of them and talking through things. You don’t always have that luxury at other places that do child welfare work. It’s really a team effort.” said Gina.
“If we did not have Dr. Anstett to see our kids, they would be waiting a significant amount of time to receive psychiatric services,” explained Gina. “Most residential facilities have a psychiatrist they are connected to, but we are especially fortunate because Dr. Homa is more involved than most facility psychiatrists.”
Mental health is essential for everyone’s overall health and well-being. The children we serve deserve attention, love, patience and care to grow and embrace life with confidence, especially those who lived with neglectful parents or haven’t been in touch with an influential role-model in their life.
“There was this one girl, a little older, that was here for several years and was never adopted. She was acting out and was in different placements. The adoption staff never gave up on her. The therapists did not, I did not,” recalled Dr. Anstett. “She was finally adopted last year, she is doing great and has a good family. For me, that was a successful case.”
For Dr. Homa and Dr. Anstett, the need for psychiatric support continues to grow. “The need for mental health services is ever growing, it’s not slowing down. Services need to expand in this community and without St. Vincent Catholic Charities, the community would really be hurting in this area,” said Dr. Anstett.