FAQs

FAQs

What is a VOICES FOR CHILDREN CASA/GAL volunteer?
 
A Voices for Children CASA/GAL volunteer (Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem) is a trained community volunteer who is appointed by Juvenile Court to represent the best interest of a child who is involved in a court proceeding as a result of having been abused or neglected. The Voices for Children CASA/GAL works independently as the child's voice in court, advocating for a safe, permanent and loving home for the child.  
 
What is the VOICES FOR CHILDREN CASA/GAL's role?
 
The CASA/GAL volunteer provides the Judge with carefully researched information about the child to help the court make a sound decision about the child's future. The CASA/GAL is committed to thinking independently and objectively about each child's case.
 
How does a CASA/GAL research the case?
 
To prepare a recommendation, the CASA/GAL volunteer talks with the child(ren), parents, family members, social workers, school officials, health providers and others who are knowledgeable about the child's history. The CASA/GAL volunteer also reviews all records pertaining to the child such as children services, court, school, medical, and caseworker reports.
 
How does a CASA/GAL volunteer differ from a social worker?

Social workers by law investigate the allegations of abuse and neglect. They must consider reuniting the family, when appropriate, which requires considering the interests of all family members. Parents of children involved in court proceedings are represented by their own legal counsel. While many other professionals are involved, the CASA/GAL volunteer is the only person whose sole task is to focus on protecting the best interest of the child.

How does the role of the CASA/GAL VOLUNTEER differ from the Attorney, Guardian Ad Litem?

An attorney may be appointed to represent the child depending on the child’s case circumstances. An attorney GAL is responsible for providing legal counsel and representation for the child in the courtroom. The CASA/GAL volunteer provides crucial information from interviews and observations with the child, parents and others.
 
Is there a typical CASA/GAL volunteer?
 
No. CASA/GAL volunteers come from all walks of life, with a variety of educational, work experiences, life skills and ethnic backgrounds. What CASA/GAL volunteers do have in common is their sincere concern for children. 
 
Can anyone volunteer as a CASA/GAL?
 
Yes, as long as that person is an adult age 21 and over of sound character and committed to representing the interest of abused and neglected children. No special background is required. All applicants go through a full background screening.  
 
What training does a CASA/GAL volunteer receive?
 
CASA/GAL volunteers undergo a thorough training program conducted by VOICES FOR CHILDREN staff. Volunteers learn about courtroom procedures as well as effective advocacy techniques for children. Specific topics ranging from child abuse and neglect, mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, child development to family dynamics and advocacy skills are covered in CASA/GAL training.
 
How does the CASA/GAL volunteer relate to the child he or she represents?
 
CASA/GAL Volunteers offer children trust, consistency and advocacy during complex and often times confusing legal proceedings. They explain to the child the events that are happening, the reasons they are in court, and the role of the Judge, the lawyers and the social workers. While remaining objective observers, the CASA/GAL volunteers also encourage the children to express their opinions and hopes.
 
How many cases, on an average, does a CASA/GAL volunteer carry at one time?
 
The number varies by volunteer, however most CASA/GAL volunteers work with 1 family at a time.
 
How much time does it require to be a CASA/GAL volunteer?
 
Each case is different. A CASA/GAL volunteer usually spend more time doing research and conducting interviews prior to the first court appearance. More complicated cases take longer. Once initiated into the system, volunteers work approximately 2 - 8 hours per month. 
 
How long does a volunteer remain involved with a case?
 
CASA/GAL volunteers stay appointed to the case until the case is resolved. That may be when the children are safely at home with their parents, living with family members or placed permanently in an adoptive home. This may take a varied amount of time. Most children's cases take 1 year to resolve.
 
Are there any other agencies or groups that provide the same service?
 
No. CASA/GAL programs are the only agency to train community volunteers to act as the child's voice in court.  
 
Why are CASA/GAL's assigned to children's cases?
 
CASA/GAL's are assigned to provide a voice in court and to speak up for the child's best interests. Volunteers provide extra monitoring, watchdog the court and child protection systems. 
 
Do CASA/GAL's really make a difference for children? 
 
Yes! CASA/GAL volunteers provide continuity, advocacy and concern for each child they are working with. Studies show that children assigned CASA/GAL volunteers have fewer moves while in foster placement, receive more services, are visited more and end up in safe, permanent homes quicker than those children without CASA/GAL volunteers. Children's lives are improved with the help of a CASA/GAL volunteer.
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