Detroit Stories Episode 39: 'Let's Talk About Foster Care' (PODCAST)

Pulling back the curtain on the foster system, a foster family and case workers explain the joys and challenges of fostering

(0:06) Tom and Anne Marie Malysz of St. John Fisher Chapel University Parish in Auburn Hills discuss how becoming foster parents has changed them, relying on the Lord’s help.

(2:09) In Part 1, the Malysz family talks about how they became involved in fostering, the expectations they had going in, and how divine providence played a role in helping the couple agree to take on the responsibility.

(6:11) The couple takes an orientation class, undergoes an arduous licensing process, and is paired with a case worker. Despite stereotypes to the contrary, the couple says they were pleasantly surprised by the painlessness of the process.

(7:02) The Malysz family welcomes their first foster children, an infant boy and his two-year-old sister. They discuss how their biological children reacted and what it was like. Since then, they’ve fostered a total of five children.

(8:20) The couple discusses the challenges and joys of fostering, including the knowledge they are helping a family in need. For the Malyszes, their Catholic faith is a big component of it all.

(11:28) The couple admits it’s bittersweet when a child leaves their home, because they don’t often get further contact with the child. But they hope that somehow, the child’s future was changed for the better as a result of their stay.

(13:30) In Part 2, Kristie Harden, director of child welfare for Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, and her staff explain the ins and outs of the foster care process. Hardin discusses the paperwork, training and background checks involved.

(16:15) Hardin discusses how a child becomes removed from his or her birth family and is placed in the foster system. The goal isn’t to place a child with a foster family, however. The goal is always reunification with the child’s birth family.

(17:25) Lyda McRoberts, one of CCSEM’s case workers, talks about how the system encourages reunification by working with parents and children on treatment plans and services. She is in constant communication with a child’s birth parents, and supervises planned visits. She also conducts regular checks with the foster family to ensure the child’s wellbeing.

(20:07) McRoberts talks about what a supervised visit looks like. It’s awkward at first, she admits, but important to see how birth parents interact with and care for their children.

(24:07) While reunification is the ultimate goal, it’s not one that’s often met. That makes case workers’ jobs seem exhausting and thankless, but the interest of children and the cooperation of foster families makes the sacrifice worth it, McRoberts says.

(24:49) Ross Henson, a licensing specialist with CCSEM, discusses the process of ensuring a foster family is ready to take on a child, including home visits. Henson discusses the shortage of foster families willing to take on children, making his job even more important.

(29:48) Hardin offers an appeal to those considering becoming foster parents: Educate yourself, but don’t be afraid of the process. It’s not scary, and for those who are called, it can be one of the most rewarding experiences in the world.

Reporting by Dan Meloy; narration by Leah Butalid; script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn

This episode is sponsored by Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan. Being a mom is the most challenging and rewarding job in the world! At Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, they make it a bit easier for moms who are feeling alone, struggling financially, or who need an extra hand to help them establish a secure and happy family. To learn more about the ways you can help moms in need visit

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