May 3 – Clifford and Kristin – Montcalm County

Starting the journey with one step.

Clifford and Kristen received a call from their agency worker who was searching for the best placement for two girls, who had resided in a number of foster homes, with relatives, and a family friend. Kristen and Clifford, with one little word spoken to the worker ~yes~ accepted the placement and took their first step toward changing so many lives. This step was the beginning of Clifford and Kristen’s journey toward becoming parents who foster in Michigan and advocates for children to achieve permanency. Clifford attended a family team meeting and engaged the birth father and grandmother by introducing himself and asking them what they (as the experts on the children) felt he needed to know about the girls, in order to be the best foster parent for them while in care. He openly provided the grandmother and father with his phone number to communicate with him and the girls, in order to make the into their new foster home easier for all parties involved. Kristen and Clifford have continually advocated for the needs of the children in the their home and the family members of the children, by reaching out to the foster care agency, school, and community mental health agency to connect with needed services to work towards safe reunification.

Finding the joy in the journey.
Kristen and Clifford truly embody what it means to be an advocate for children and families as they publically support family members, community members, social workers, educators, and all others who have the same common goal to achieve what is in the best interest of children. This is a challenge faced by many who serve in the profound role of foster parent as many times ideas related to what is “in the best interest” of children varies based on each individual’s perspective. Clifford and Kristen find joy and purpose in working as members of a team, considering each person’s perspective, as this has given them an opportunity to play a role in the enhancement of so many lives. Simply put, Kristen frequently states “It is an honor to have the title…foster parent.”