What is CASA?
Each year, in this country, more than 500,000 children are placed in some form of foster care and thrust into the court system. They have committed no crime, but are simply child victims who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned. It is then up to a judge to decide their futures. The judge must consider the following: Did the conditions at home warrant removal? Is the home now safe enough to allow the child’s return or should that child be permanently placed in another home?
In early 2002, a few members of the Marinette-Menominee area came together to talk about establishing a local CASA program. A needs assessment was done in the community of Menominee. After meeting with the Menominee County Family Court Judge, a group of citizens met to form a mission statement and develop bylaws for a local CASA program. In November 2002, an agreement was signed with Rainbow House, allowing CASA to come under the non-profit umbrella of that agency.
In the summer of 2003, the Development Team turned over the reins of the program to an Advisory Council. The Advisory Council worked hard to market the program through newspaper articles, and by establishing a Speakers Bureau, to provide programs for service organizations, churches, and other agencies in the community.
In October 2004, a full-time director was hired and training of the first group of advocates began in December 2004. The advocates were sworn in as Officers of the Court on December 21, 2004, and all were assigned to cases in Menominee County Family Court by January 2005.
Since that time, there have been several program changes for CASA of Menominee County. The Menominee County Intermediate School District welcomed CASA of Menominee County under its non-profit operational umbrella beginning in July 2006.
Loss of funding from National CASA compelled the program to temporarily replace the full-time program director with a volunteer coordinator. During the interim, the Advisory Council took over some duties that were previously the responsibility of the program director. They persisted in working to secure adequate funding to ensure quality advocacy continued to be available to the children of Menominee County.
In September 2008, CASA of Menominee County was granted its long-hoped for IRS tax-exempt status and became a full-fledged independent non-profit organization in January 2009.
In April 2018, CASA transitioned from having one part-time Program Coordinator to two part time employees, consisting of an Executive Director and an Advocate Supervisor. This was in large part to securing on-going funding from Menominee County in 2019.
In December 2021, CASA of Menominee County purchased its first public office space, located at 915 14th Ave Menominee.
As of January 2023, CASA of Menominee County merged with the Marinette CASA Program, formerly under the supervision of CASA of Brown County. The program is now known as CASA of Menominee/Marinette, and is one of only 3 programs in the country that operates across state lines.
Despite multiple staff and program changes, CASA of Menominee/Marinette has conducted annual and sometimes twice annually training sessions, resulting in an additional 3-5 trained volunteers each year. Advocates provide a voice in the courtroom for an average of 50 children each year that have experienced abuse or neglect.
CASA of Menominee/Marinette is a member of the Great Start Collaborative, M&M Area Chamber of Commerce, the Michigan CASA Association, and holds full membership with the National CASA Association.
Meet The Team
Board of Directors
Brigette Buyarski - President
Jenna Stubenvoll - Vice President
Kim Pericolosi - Secretary
Molly Jansen - Treasurer
Faith Sandahl - Executive Director
Kirsten Holstrom - Program Adminstrator
Hailey Highlen - Advocate Supervisor
Join Our Board
We are always looking for new board members with community connections and a passion for our mission. Click here to email us for more information and an application.