A Michigan Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a specially trained community volunteer appointed by our family court judge to speak up for the best interests of an abused or neglected child. Bringing urgency to a child’s needs both in and out of a courtroom, CASA volunteers advocate for safety, permanence, and well-being for children through independent, fact-based recommendations based on their relationship and understanding of the child.
A CASA volunteer must successfully pass multiple background checks including a child abuse registry check and state and national sex offender checks. They must also complete our new volunteer training and cannot be a party to an open abuse/neglect case. They must also complete 30 hours of new volunteer training.
Upon completion of our new volunteer training program and our screening process, a volunteer will be sworn in by our family court judge and will officially become a court certified CASA volunteer. The CASA Executive Director (ED) works closely with the court and the foster care agencies to identify cases that could use the support of a CASA the most. The ED contacts the CASA and goes over cases details and then sends a request to the judge for an order of assignment.
Once assigned, the CASA will meet with the foster care case worker to get the most up to date information about the case. The CASA visits with their assigned child/ren at least bi-weekly (although weekly is preferred). They work to build a relationship with the child and offer consistency to the child. They also offer resources to the child and their placement as well as to the biological family. The CASA works closely with other service providers on the case and makes fact-based recommendations via a written court report, for what they feel would be in the child's best interest.
What we don't do- CASA volunteers do not provide direct resources. This means the CASA does not supervise parenting visits (but they are allowed and encouraged to observe parenting visits). We also do not transport children.
Hillsdale CASA History
Hillsdale CASA was formed in 2013, with the first class of volunteers being sworn in in November of 2014. Hillsdale CASA is a member of Michigan CASA and holds a full membership with National CASA. and is also locally associated with Family Treatment Court (FTC), Great Start Collaborative, and Human Services Network (HSN).
As of 2023 we have approximately 105 children in foster care in Hillsdale County and we currently have 19 volunteers serving 50 kids. Our goal is to eventually have a CASA worker for every child in foster care, so the need for volunteers is great! Please contact us for more information or fill out an application by selecting the "Become an Advocate" tab on our home page.