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NCJW's CASA program seeks volunteers to
be court-appointed advocates for children.
Probate Court in Pontiac.
"We work in pairs, a new person is
always with a more experienced
one," Lieberman says. "Basically, we
do an initial visit to the courthouse
and then with the prospective
guardian. You can visit the school
and talk to teachers, but that's not
necessary. And a volunteer can refuse
Kanter adds that if the minor is
younger than age 5, she tries to talk
to as many people she can who are
The child signed up for dance les-
sons and Girl Scouts, while the
grandmother was a room mother at
school and had taken an active role
in the child's life. She told Kanter
her granddaughter had made her
and her husband years younger.
"We're the only ones out there
that do what we do," Lieberman
says. "There are many social workers
and protective service workers who
do a wonderful job. But once we
establish a relationship with a fami-
IV hen parents are no
longer capable of caring
for their children in
whether because of drugs, illness or
death, a Probate Court judge decides
who is awarded guardianship.
The court might request a court-
appointed special advocate, or CASA
volunteer, to do a home study of the
child and of the proposed
"We're the court's eyes and
ears," says volunteer Lois
Kanter of Orchard Lake, who
has been doing home studies
for judges for 10 years. "The
judges can't check these things
out themselves. The courts are
overloaded with these cases and
they need outside people, who
are hopefully objective, to help
them make the best decision for
The CASA volunteer program
was first started in Seattle in
1977, says Rosevelyn Lieberman
of West Bloomfield, local CASA
co-chair with Monica
Ziegelman of Bloomfield Hills
and Libby Sherbin of Beverly
The program reached the
CASA co-chairs Rosevelyn Lieberman of West Bloomfield, Monica Ziegelman o
Bloomfield Hills and Libby Sherbin of Beverly Hills
Detroit area in the early 1980s
when the National Council of
Jewish Women, Greater Detroit
involved with the child.
ly, we follow up with them until the
Section, took it on as one of their
After guardianship is awarded, vol- child is 18."
service projects, says Lieberman,
unteers stay in touch with the family
"We don't solve their problems,
over the phone.
who first volunteered 15 years ago.
but refer them to outside help," says
"We now have about 60 volunteers
Lieberman, who has gotten letters
on our roster," she says.
from judges and children helped by
Many are in their 60s and are
CASA praising the work these vol-
retired professionals, teachers, social
Kanter tells of one 4-year-old girl
unteers do. ❑
workers and doctors — men and
she and her partner wrote about.
Both her parents had died and both
People interested in volunteering
sets of grandparents wanted to care
for CASA can come to the free
for the child.
training program NCJW is offering
"We recommended the maternal
The free two-day CASA training
Thursday and Friday, Sept. 18 - 19.
grandparents, who seemed the most
will be held from 9:30 a.m.-noon
Volunteers are not required to be
stable," Kanter says, and the judge
Thursday and Friday, Sept. 18-
19, at the National Council of
The first morning session intro-
Kanter was pleased to hear about
Jewish Women office, 26400
duces people to the work,
the girl several years later when she
Lahser, Suite 100, Southfield.
Lieberman says. During the second
was 9. "She had really blossomed
Open to all. For more informa-
session, the group sees volunteers in
and her grandparents were doing a
tion call (248) 355-3300.
action at the Oakland County
marvelous job" she says.
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Helping Judges Help Kids