SFC Staff Profile: Kelly Burdell

Kelly Burdell, Foster Care and Adoption Supervisor

“When I first started, I saw that everyone here holds compassion for everyone else,” Ms. Kelly Burdell said. “They are always willing to help out, doing different things – for each other and for those we serve. And that includes the most important thing we do: Finding permanent home for children.”

Kelly Burdell had long known that children in Michigan and across the United States are in desperate need. And, so, she decided to dedicate her professional career to help them find safe, healthy and supporting homes as a practitioner of social work.

Ms. Burdell began her service with Spaulding for Children as an intern in 2012. The assignment was part of her Master of Social Work studies at Wayne State University. Upon graduation in 2013, Spaulding hired Ms. Burdell as a Foster Care Specialist, helping children and families find each other. In 2016, she became Spaulding’s Foster Care and Adoption Supervisor. Recently, she spoke with us about her work.

“It was surprising to discover that some children, youngsters ages 9 or 10, had realized that not being with their biological parents, sometimes, was the best option for them,” Ms. Burdell said. “That is a very young age for someone to realize that, ‘The foster home is better for me than going back home and being with my mother.’”

In addition to helping children find safe, healthy and supporting homes, foster care and adoption social workers help children and foster families deal with complex physical and psychological issues. Social work professionals also are called to represent and act in the best interest of children with teachers and schools, other health care providers, and with government and social agencies.

“It is not the child’s fault that he or she was brought into that situation,” Ms. Burdell said. “The child, however, is the one who is suffering. For whatever reason, it may be the parents who are at fault. We have to think about the child and help him or her get out of that situation in order for them to lead a productive, successful and happy life. If they remain in that situation, they will face multiple challenges. If that’s all they see in their life as children, that’s also probably what they also will end up becoming as adults.”

What does it take to become a foster care provider or an adoptive parent? Many people have misperceptions about the requirements.

“You don’t have to be rich,” Ms. Burdell said. “You don’t have to own a home. You don’t have to be married. The majority of people adopting today are single parents. And they are good hearted people who want to help others.”

Ms. Burdell invites people to learn more about adoptive and foster parenting. Spaulding for Children hosts information sessions and orientation programs where prospective parents can learn specifics. If they decide to continue in the process, prospective foster and adoptive parents are assigned a licensing worker who helps them complete their training, home assessment, and background checks.

“It’s all part of what we do here at Spaulding,” Ms. Burdell said.