CASA KANE COUNTY
CASA Kane County is a nonprofit volunteer organization that has been advocating for the best interests of abused and neglected children within the Juvenile Court system since 1988. CASA Kane County recruits, trains, and supervises community volunteers who serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates and Guardians ad Litem (CASA/GAL) for children who are in court due to abuse, neglect or private guardianship. The goal is to ensure that every child is placed in a safe and permanent home allowing them the chance to reach their full potential in life.
The program began with one director and two CASA volunteers that served seven children. In November 1992, the legal status of CASA volunteers changed from “Friends of the Court” to Guardians ad Litem. This change gave the advocates a far stronger voice in court, making them a full party to the cases with attorneys appointed to represent them. In the fall of 2004, CASA Kane County was asked by the Probate Court judge to expand its mandate.
CASA/GAL volunteers are appointed to each case by the Juvenile Court Judge. As a child’s Guardian ad Litem, CASA volunteers are an officer of the courts and a party to the case and have the authority to obtain records and information about the child. CASA/GAL volunteers visit the child and meet with the parents, guardians, teachers, medical professionals, and other individuals in the child’s life. They gather information and compile it in a report that is then presented to the Judge prior to every court hearing. Since CASA/GAL’s are assigned to only one case at a time, they have the ability to spend the most time with the child and gather the information needed in making life changing decisions. There are many possible positive outcomes for a child—reunification, adoption, independent living, or guardianship with relatives for that child to receive a safe and permanent home. The average length of a case is three years.
CASA/GAL volunteers must be at least 21 years old, interview with the Vice-President of Advocacy and Operations along with two advocate supervisors. In addition they must pass a background check, finger print screening and complete a 45-hour training program before they are accepted into the program and sworn under oath by the Judge. All active volunteers are expected to earn at least 12 continuing education hours of core education and case specific training. CASA Kane County helps the CASA/GAL volunteers meet this requirement by offering these on-going educational opportunities that are both in large and small group meetings throughout the year.
CASA Kane County is governed by 20 professional Board of Directors that give of their time, talents and treasures. Daily operations are managed by a dedicated staff of 16. Every CASA/GAL volunteer is managed by an advocate supervisor and is supported by an experienced CASA/GAL mentor during their first year of service. CASA/GAL volunteers spend on an average of 10 hours per month on their case and contribute more than 30,000 hours a year.
CASA Kane County’s 280 CASA/GAL volunteers are serving over 600 children throughout Kane County annually. CASA Kane County is one of over 1,000 CASA organizations across the country, and one of 35 within the State of Illinois. The organization is a registered 501(c)(3) organization, and relies solely on philanthropic support from individuals, grants and special event fundraising to support its operations. The CASA Kane County office is located in the downtown district of Geneva in the old courthouse that represents a county with over 500,000 people serving 28 cities.
For more information about CASA Kane County, please call (630) 232-4484, or visit our website at www.casakanecounty.org.
Program began in the fall with space donated by United Methodist Church of Geneva.
One part-time staff member, two CASA volunteers, seven children, $14,000 budget.
1992: Legal status changed from “Friend of the Court” to Guardian ad Litem. CASA volunteers are now a full party to the case and represented by an attorney.
1993: Mentor program developed where experienced CASAs assisted new volunteers.
Due to a growing caseload, CASA needed additional legal help—20 local attorneys stepped forward and provided pro-bono assistance. Six staff, 78 CASA volunteers, 216 children, $100,000 budget.
1994: First written agreement with DCFS allowing CASA to access records.
Tenth anniversary celebrated with a tree planting at the courthouse.
Goal of achieving 200 CASAs by the year 2000 achieved!
Twelve staff, 210 CASA volunteers, 489 children, $547,000 budget.
A CASA is appointed to all abused and neglected children in Kane County for the first time.
2004: CASA Kane County appointed to minors in Probate cases. Ten staff, 198 CASA volunteers, 459 children, $857,921 budget.
2005: The First Hands Around the Courthouse event held in April for child abuse and prevention and awareness month.
CASA celebrates 20 years with two major events—Light the Way 20th Anniversary Gala and a 20-year celebration at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora. Eleven staff, 218 CASA volunteers, 523 children, $1,108,827 budget.
CASA Kane County develops a formal strategic plan. Grow a Healthy Child endowment campaign is launched.
Advocate Advisory Panel is formed to further connect CASAs and leadership in forming stronger alliances.
The Grow a Healthy Child Endowment Campaign was launched.
Inaugural Super Heroes Breakfast held.
Child and Family Resource Database went live on website.
The suitcase initiative for youth was created to provide a suitcase and/or gift cards for children in the foster care system.
Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) database tracking system launched to track better child, program and volunteer performance measurements.
Constructed the Grow a Healthy Child Garden at the front entrance of the Courthouse.
CASA Jo and Robin present their story at National CASA conference in Washington D.C.
Thirteen staff, 264 CASA volunteers, 556 children (highest ever), $2,178,728 budget.
25th anniversary celebrated at the Dunham Woods Riding Club.
Strategic Planning conducted with Board of Directors, staff, CASA volunteers & Chairman’s Advisory Panel.
10th Annual Hands Around the Courthouse event held in April for child abuse and prevention and awareness month.
Hollywood – The Golden Era Gala & Auction held in March.
First Legacy Event held at the home of Doris Hunt.
Corridor Office Project completed with expansion of CASA offices.
2nd bi-annual Benefit Concert at DuPage Airport.
21st annual Children’s Champion Celebration “The Black and White Diamond Ball” held at the Q Center.
what guides us
Through caring and dedicated volunteers, CASA of Kane County will advocate for all children in need, will generate awareness of their plight, and will cultivate strong partnerships with individuals and organizations committed to bettering the lives of abused and neglected children. CASA of Kane County will advocate for the best interests of each and every one of its children, and in doing so, help ensure that the child client’s rights listed below are received and respected.
Every child in care has a right…
- To a safe, healthy, and appropriate environment, either with his/her biological family, with an adoptive family, or in continuing foster care.
- To be informed of his/her rights as a youth in care, and to be an active participant in their case when appropriate.
- To confidential communications with his/her attorney, caseworker, and CASA Volunteer, and to have his/her privacy protected.
- To have his/her best interests represented at every court hearing by the CASA/GAL who is represented by an attorney.
- To receive necessary medical, dental, vision, hearing, and mental health services.
- To have consistent access to quality education, guidance, and preparation for adulthood.
- To practice his/her religion and uphold their cultural values without restriction, and to participate in extra-curricular, community, and life-enriching activities when appropriate.
- To be protected from physical, emotional, sexual, and other forms of abuse, and to be safeguarded from discrimination.
- To have consistent and healthy visits with siblings and other family members if deemed appropriate by the court.
- To receive consistent, high quality child welfare services for the duration of his/her time in care.
Philanthropy is based on voluntary action for the common good. It is a tradition of giving and sharing that is primary to the quality of life. To ensure that philanthropy merits the respect and trust of the general public, and that donors and prospective donors can have full confidence in the nonprofit organizations and causes they are asked to support, we declare that all donors have these rights:
- To be informed of the organization’s mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.
- To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization’s governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.
- To have access to the organization’s most recent financial statements.
- To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.
- To receive appropriate acknowledgement and recognition.
- To be assured that information about their donation is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.
- To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.
- To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers, employees of the organization or hired solicitors.
- To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.
- To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answers.
Our obligation is to ensure that the children we represent will be visited at least monthly, and that their needs, desires and circumstances will be reported to the court at every scheduled hearing. The Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem (CASA/GAL) will be the consistent person in the child’s life.
A diverse CASA/GAL network helps us to better understand and promote the well-being of the children we serve. Embracing diversity makes us better advocates by providing fresh ideas and perspectives for problem solving in our multicultural world, enabling us to respond to each child’s unique needs.