Frequently Asked Questions
What is a CASA/GAL?
Court Appointed Special Advocate and Guardian Ad Litem volunteers serve as the “eyes and ears” of the judge, gathering relevant information about the child and the family. They make recommendations to the judge regarding what is in the child’s best interests. A CASA/GAL volunteer works to ensure that the child is placed in a safe, permanent, nurturing home as quickly as possible.
Who is a CASA/GAL?
CASA/GAL volunteers are compassionate, objective, self-motivated individuals from the community who are trained to speak on behalf of abused and neglected children. CASA/GAL volunteers submit an application with references, complete an interview with the program staff, and attend training. A complete criminal history and child abuse registry check are performed on each applicant. Upon completion of their training, CASA/GAL volunteers are sworn in by the juvenile court judge and adhere to strict confidentiality and professionalism throughout their appointment.
What does a CASA/GAL do?
Advocate: CASA/GAL gives the child a voice in court. CASA/GAL volunteers speak up for the child by making recommendations regarding the child’s best interests in a written court report.
Investigate: CASA/GAL evaluates the child’s situation through an objective lens. CASA/GAL volunteers carry out an objective examination of the situation, including relevant history, environment, relationships, and needs of the child.
Facilitate: CASA/GAL identifies resources and services for the child to encourage a collaborative relationship between all the parties on a case.
Monitor: CASA/GAL ensures the rights of abused and neglected children are being protected and the child’s best interests are being met.
How Big is the Time Commitment?
Each case lasts, on average, two years and requires approximately 10-15 volunteer hours each month. You do not need to wait until you are retired to become a CASA/GAL volunteer – in fact, many of our volunteers work full time.
What Type of Training and Support Will I Receive?
CASA/GAL volunteers receive approximately 35 hours of in-depth training through your local CASA/GAL program. Upon completion all volunteers will be sworn in before the Judge and will then be assigned a case and a supervisor. CASA /GAL program staff and/or volunteer mentors will support you on your first and future cases.
Does the Judge Listen to a CASA Volunteer’s Recommendations?
Yes! Judges rely heavily on the testimony of the CASA/GAL volunteer to make an informed decision on the child’s future. The judge is aware that CASA/GAL volunteers are typically assigned to just one or two cases and is a constant presence in that child’s life.