Probate and Family Courts Volunteer ServicesRobert P. Griffin Hall of Justice
280 Washington St, Lower Level
Traverse City, MI 49684
Interested in Becoming a Volunteer?
What is a Probate or Family Court Volunteer?
A volunteer for the Grand Traverse County Probate Court or Family Division is a citizen like yourself, who gives time and energy to helping someone who has, in one way or another, come into contact with the Probate or Family Courts. There are many ways in which a citizen may assist the Court and types of volunteer roles are virtually unlimited.
What are the Qualifications for Being a Volunteer?
The most important qualification for a volunteer is a genuine interest in helping people. Any person who is honest and sincere may be of help to the community through this essential Court work. Court systems have found, over the years, that professional training and education are not solely the answer. A volunteer who is more of a "friend" and who sincerely cares, may often be very effective.
Teamwork between regular Court personnel and citizen volunteers has led to a greater understanding of the nature of persons who come into the Courts, and most importantly, it provides better services to those under Court jurisdiction.
Are there any Special Training Sessions or Orientations provided?
Yes. Due to the diversity of the volunteer program, various training sessions and orientations are held. Attendance is required of the volunteer. Specialized training such as CASA, transportation, and guardianships are held regularly. Support through monthly in-service training is provided.
How do I apply to be a Volunteer?
Contact the Coordinator of Volunteer Services. They match all volunteers and provide guidance and support in these assignments.
What are some of the Volunteer roles?
Assignments may be either short or long term and with varied levels of responsibility in the following areas:
- Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) - Are concerned with achieving a safe and permanent home for children who are in foster care. Volunteer advocates will be expected to attend Court hearings as well as carefully observing the child's situation and reporting to the Judge.
- Citizen's Panel - A partnership with the Prosecutor's office, this program diverts certain first-time offenders from the Court. This program offers an opportunity for community members to be involved in the process, while allowing youth to make amends for breaking the law through a "Community Promise," and in turn avoiding a juvenile record. A youth's Community Promise includes ideas such as personal community service obedience to laws, parents and school, perhaps a donation to charity, a writing assignment, or apology. An eight-week timeline for completion is given. If the youth is successful in completing their promise, they will avoid having a juvenile record. Trained Probate Volunteers make up the Citizen's Panel.
- Learning Partners - Are special tutors for elementary school children who need help academically and may benefit from out-of-school positive learning experiences as well. Learning Partners is a delinquency prevention program. Volunteers work with at-risk youth who are not Court involved.
- Probation or Consent Monitor - Works with the youth who have been placed on formal probation, or for lesser offenses, may have been diverted from the Court process. They assist the child, by meeting with them regularly, to successfully complete terms of probation or service plan.
- Office Assistant - Provides help with typing letters, forms, envelopes, telephoning, and receptionist duties in the Court's offices. Help prepare the newsletter for mailing.
- Tutors - Assist those who need help with school work. Many of the youth are doing poorly in secondary school and may not be fulfilling their potential. Volunteers help students in various subjects, as needed, as well as teach organizational skills. Youth are referred by their Probation Officer and/or the Truancy Intervention Program.
- Volunteer Curfew Monitor - Monitors a juvenile who is on a Court-mandated curfew by telephone or with random visits.
- Special Talents - Special talents are also visible in our Court. Ask about opportunities for volunteers in accounting, emergency guardian, friendly visitor, parent, or home aid.
- Guardians and Conservators - Appointed by the Judge and accepted by a volunteer, this is a very special service involving developmentally disabled adults and the elderly, for the most part. Volunteers act for those who are unable to manage their own personal or financial matters.
- Emergency Guardian Program - A partnership with Munson Hospital, Probate Court, and our Volunteer Services Division. When no interested person may be identified to act for a person admitted to the hospital, a volunteer is contacted and may be appointed for 28 days to make medical and placement decisions. This program has been in place since 2005.
- Guardianship Reviewers - Volunteers with experience in working with residents in nursing homes or adult foster care conduct state-mandated reviews to determine if guardianship is needed. CASA and other trained volunteers may conduct reviews to determine if the guardian for a minor child may continue.
- Transporters - Volunteers who transport juveniles from Court to/from various detention homes.
- Exit Interviewer - Conducts the final interview with a youth on probation and his parent(s) after the youth has been discharged. This provides objective feedback from the juvenile and family regarding the total Court experience and how they felt about it. A standard questionnaire is used by the volunteer.