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www.mybaycity.com October 25, 2015
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The new Bay County CASA volunteers.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Judge John Keuvelaar Announces CASA Program For Children of Neglect & Abuse

Seven trained volunteers sworn in at CASA ceremony

October 25, 2015       Leave a Comment
By: John Keuvelaar

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On Wednesday, Probate Judge John Keuvelaar introduced the CASA program to the Bay County Probate Court to help the children of neglect and abuse cases. In announcing this program, Judge Keuvelaar swore in seven trained volunteers who are ready to be assigned as advocates for children who are victims of child neglect and abuse. These workers will visit their assigned children weekly to help provide a constant and consistent adult in their life and insure that the child receives the services he or she needs to overcome the trauma of child neglect and abuse.


Probate Judge John Keuvelaar address the audience on the new CASA program.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

CASA is short for Court Appointed Special Advocate. This is a national program that is being utilized by several probate courts across the state. The Great Lakes Regional CAN (Child Abuse and Neglect) Council sponsors this program for both Saginaw and now Bay County. CEO and President Suzanne Greenberg of the Regional CAN Council along with Program Director Randy Roberts provide their tireless hours of work in recruiting, training and supervising these CASA volunteers to insure that the children of neglect and abuse receive the much needed support and care.


District Judge Dawn Klida discusses the energy that Suzanne Greenberg and Randy Roberts
have brought to the CASA program.

(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)



Program Director Randy Roberts shares the duties and responsibilities of the CASA workers.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)



CEO and President of the Great Lakes Region CAN Council explains the history of the CASA program.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

"We are very excited to add CASA to our toolbox of services and support for our abuse and neglected cases," exclaimed Judge John Keuvelaar. "We have a great Team approach to these cases in Bay County."

According to Keuvelaar, the foster care workers of DHHS, Wellsprings and Holy Cross all do great work to provide services and do their best to meet the children's needs. But caseloads and state requirements often prohibit them from actually seeing the children once a month even though they try to see the children more often. The Guardian Ad Litems (attorneys appointed to represent the children in court) are only required to see the children once every three months and their caseloads prohibit additional personal contact they would prefer to give.

Keuvelaar says "The workers and attorneys utilize email and phone calls with the foster parents to monitor the needs of the children. By adding CASA, the children will actually see an adult specifically assigned to them weekly thus insuring their needs for services are met. The CASA worker can directly communicate to the foster care worker, the GAL attorney and ultimately the court as to how the child is doing and if specific services are needed."


Shannon Clifford shares her experience as a CASA volunteer.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)



The audience listens intently to the presentation.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

Shannon Clifford, a Bay County 911 Dispatcher and CASA volunteer for Saginaw the last couple years was one of seven individuals who were sworn in to be CASA workers in Bay County. Ms. Clifford spoke of her experiences as a Saginaw worker demonstrating this need for a consistent adult in the child's life. Noting one particular case she was assigned to, the child was in foster care for a year and a half as the case worked its way through the court system.

During that time the child had been assigned three different foster care workers resulting in three different therapists as the child's case service plan changed. That particular case ended with the parents rights being terminated so when the child was ultimately adopted, she was the one constant adult in the child's life. When that child arrived at the adoptive home, Ms. Clifford explained how the child ran up to Ms. Clifford and hugged her as she was there to greet the child.


Judge Keuvelaar swears in the new CASA volunteers.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)



The new CASA volunteers are presented to the audience.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)



Program Director Randy Roberts embraces new volunteer Denise Perz.
(MyBayCity Photo by John Keuvelaar)

The Bay County CASA workers will immediately begin taking assignments to the children of Bay County cases. If you would like to become a volunteer or learn more about the CASA program, contact Randy Roberts at 989-752-7226 or visit the web site at http://cancouncil.org/casa.

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John Keuvelaar

John Keuvelaar is a college student at Midwest Photography Workshops and Delta College.

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