Children's Advocates are assigned by Oakland County Family Court Judges to children requiring a legal guardianship. They interview the potential guardians and the children, write reports and present the cases to the presiding judges. Children's Advocates are trained by Oakland Court personnel as well as by NCJW/Greater Detroit's Children's Advocates team leaders. They are known as "the ears of the court."
The program is composed of 70 volunteers primarily women, but not necessarily Jewish. We work in teams of two and our territory is all of Oakland County, which is probably one of the largest counties in Michigan. Advocates are assigned by the Probate Court to work on guardianship cases that have risk factors. We are able to provide more pertinent information to the presiding judge prior to his making a decision affecting a child’s placement. Therefore, we are known as the “eyes and ears” of the Court.
Training for Children’s Advocates is three fold: (1) An orientation and overview of the program and its mission presented by the co-chairwomen, (2) a seminar on the legal terms and documents that are used in the guardianship process presented by the probate registrar, court administrator and the volunteer co-coordinator, (3) on the job training for each new volunteer on an actual case with an experienced Children’s Advocate. The new trainee and her experienced trainer are then considered a team that will monitor the guardianship, if granted until it is terminated in Court, or until the minor is 18 years old
Our training materials for the first part consist of a procedure sheet that describe step by step the way an advocate accepts an assignment, sets up interviews, the information she need to know and how to proceed with the interview process, sample copies of the type of report she will write to send to the judge and how to present the case with her partner to the judge.
The second part of the training by Court staff consists of explaining all documents they will be referring to for different types of guardianship modifications. Since the training days are consecutive, the new volunteers are excited by the challenge of being an advocate but also somewhat overwhelmed by the amount of new material.
The third part of the training is where the first two parts come together: working on an actual case and making thoughtful recommendations regarding the information that was obtained. The with the parent(s).
Two to three Inservice Workshops are held annually for Children’s Advocates where professionals, working in fields related to our work, are invited to present their knowledge and experience. Children’s Advocates must attend at least on Inservice annually.
We hope the above information will give you a clear picture of the training Children’s Advocates must complete. If you’re interested in joining us, please complete the application from below and return it to the NCJW Office. We will notify you prior to our next training.
Click Here For Children's Advocates application
Call (248) 355-3300 ext.0 for more information or referrals.