WHY ARE CASA/GAL VOLUNTEERS NEEDED AND WHAT IS THE COMMITMENT, QUALIFICATIONS AND BENEFITS?
The CASA/GAL volunteer is often the only one constant person advocating for the minor(s) throughout the duration of the case, often holding the child’s history, and providing a caring and supportive person that the child can trust. The on-going presence of a CASA/GAL volunteer helps children to thrive in foster care and ensures a safe and permanent home.
Children are moved from one foster home to another and there are often frequent changes in caseworkers, attorneys and judges. As the one consistent person in the child’s life, we ask that our CASA/GAL volunteers be willing to make a minimum two year commitment until the case is closed. A typical volunteer spends 10 hours a month on a case and the average length is three years.
CASA volunteers are compassionate, objective, self-motivated individuals from the community who are trained to speak on behalf of abused and neglected children. They come from all walks of life and many work full-time. In Kane County, we are appointed as the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) and have extensive responsibility and commitment to provide the judge with an unbiased view as an appointed officer of the court.
After the child(ren) are removed from their home due to unsafe living conditions, a shelter care hearing takes place within 48 hours. At this court hearing the Judge will appoint CASA Kane County as the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) to the child(ren). CASA then collects as much information as possible to best match the child(ren) with the experiences, expertise and geographic location of each CASA/GAL volunteer.
Being a CASA volunteer is both rewarding and challenging. The child welfare system is bureaucratic and overburdened, and CASA volunteers often have to work hard to get the system to respond. Because of court decisions, social service plans and other factors out of our control, the volunteer can face disappointments. The biggest reward comes on the day when the child is placed in a safe, permanent home and knowing they made a difference in a child’s life.
The most important benefit of being a CASA volunteer is the chance to make a meaningful contribution to the life of a child who desperately needs your help. Many volunteers choose to stay in contact with their CASA “kids” even as they transition into an adult.