Michelle started in a dual role at SCAN in 2019, working within the Richmond CASA and Child Advocacy Center Programs. We are thankful for the expertise, commitment to families, and positive presence that she brings to the SCAN team!
How did you first get involved with SCAN? What has your life/work experience been that brought you to SCAN?
I previously worked as a Victim/Witness Specialist at Richmond Victim/Witness Services for three years before starting at SCAN. In this role, I primarily worked out of the Richmond Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, advocating for victims and witnesses of crime throughout the criminal justice process. Although I primarily served survivors of domestic (and/or intimate partner) violence, it was here that I first started working with child survivors of abuse as well. While working specifically with children and their caregivers during the court process, I was exposed to and participated in the Richmond Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) at the CAC, and in turn came to learn about SCAN and its programs. I have always been drawn to the trauma-informed practices of SCAN, and was so excited to officially join the team in October 2019.
What is your current role?
I have the unique opportunity to work for two programs at SCAN – the CAC and Richmond CASA. At the CAC, I work part-time as a Child and Family Advocate (primarily at the Henrico office), where I meet with non-offending caregivers during their child’s forensic interview. Within this meeting, I explain the forensic interview process and offer support, often in the form of linking families to mental health support or other needed resources through ongoing follow-up. I also participate as a member of the Henrico MDT and coordinate with our various partners. The other role I fulfill at SCAN is as a Case Manager at CASA. Through this position, I participate in the training and supervision of volunteers who advocate for children whose cases have come before the court due to abuse or neglect by a caregiver. I support my volunteers through ongoing navigation of their case, including assisting in the preparation of a written report that is submitted to the court. This report details a child’s situation and makes recommendations regarding what is in the child’s best interests concerning permanency and needed services for both the child and parents.
What inspires you to stay involved with your work at SCAN?
In this line of work, we are interacting with people who are dealing with one of the hardest experiences of their lives. What inspires me while advocating for children and families at the CAC is finding ways to lessen this load and make the process a little less traumatic if I can. Sometimes that might be something seemingly small, like providing a non-judgmental, listening ear, or simply allowing the space to talk through a range of emotions. Within my role as a CASA Case Manager, I am inspired by the sheer dedication of our volunteers who devote their personal time to advocate for a child who is also going through one of the most stressful and traumatic events of their life as well. It takes a real-life superhero to be a CASA volunteer!