Catholic Charities West Michigan works to provide help and create hope to our clients in need and the Investing in Hope campaign is intended to raise awareness and funds for our vital programs in Muskegon. Please read our interview below with our Muskegon Licensing Specialist, Liz Labra, about our foster care program.

Why are your services essential and why should people support your program?
Our services as Catholic Charities’ child welfare workers are essential because there are always children who are coming into foster care. That is one thing that COVID-19 did not stop. I love my job because it allows me to not only work at the forefront with families but also as a way to help recently removed children find a caring home to stay in while they are in foster care. But without my services as a licensing worker, families wouldn’t be able to become licensed and the quality and number of foster homes would diminish.

With our fundraising, each worker was able to receive a laptop last year which has been imperative in doing our jobs well during the pandemic. The staff laptops allowed us to be able to able to attend virtual court hearings, virtual staff meetings, file our reports, provide resources and training opportunities to our foster and adoptive parents, and much more. Your donations are also utilized to show our current foster foster/adoptive parents appreciation and support for all that they do, including signed holiday cards, celebration gifts for becoming licensed or finalizing an adoption, a meal basket or gift cards to a restaurant to help with meals, and more. Your financial support will not only benefit staff and services for our foster parents, but ultimately for our children in care.

What do you wish people knew about Muskegon & the people here?
I think people underestimate Muskegon and the people who live here. The community has come together during COVID and offered support and resources to all those that may be in need.

What about your clients make them special to you?
My clients are special to me because I think they are so brave. They have reached out to learn more about foster care/adoption and want to take the next big step to grow their family! Which is very exciting and nerve racking at the same time – they’re usually very excited to start the process but are also nervous about the changes that are going to happen in their life. I love working with my clients to help answer their questions and fears and guide them through the licensing process to accepting a placement.

How has your role changed, due to COVID-19?
One of the biggest changes in my role is being able to offer my clients virtual appointments in addition to the traditional face-to-face meetings. The virtual meetings have been helpful in allowing us to work around a foster parent’s schedule, while also allowing us to maintain health and safety boundaries.

How will the new Muskegon building help you better serve your clients?
I think that that the new building in Muskegon will help better serve my clients by having a more professional looking environment. The new building has a beautiful lobby for foster/adoptive parents to wait in as well as new visitation rooms for our parents to visit with their children who are in a foster home. I believe that having a new building will allow our agency to rank equally among the other foster care and adoptive agencies in the area.

To support our Muskegon child welfare programs, please visit ccwestmi.org/donate. All donations up to $50,000 will be doubled June 7-11!