WHO, WHAT AND HOW TO BECOME A CASA/GAL VOLUNTEER?

Prospective CASA/GAL volunteers should attend a general information meeting, submit an application with references, complete an interview with the program staff and attend a 45 hour training. A complete criminal history and child abuse registry check is performed on each applicant. Upon completion of their training, CASA/GAL volunteers are sworn in by the Juvenile Court Judge and promise to maintain strict confidentiality, objectivity, and professionalism throughout their appointment.

A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is a community volunteer who is recruited, trained and supervised by a CASA Kane County Advocate Supervisor and appointed by a Judge to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children during a dependency case. CASA/GAL volunteers spend an average of 10-15 hours a month advocating for a child and the average case is three years. The volunteer gathers information from those who know the child best and can and acts as the “eyes and ears” for the Judge during the child’s time in foster care.

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.

A CASA/GAL volunteer provides a judge with objective information about the child to help the court make life changing decisions about that child’s future. Each case is as unique as the child involved. The CASA/GAL volunteer learns by researching, interviewing and listening to the child in determining what’s in their best interest- to be reunified with their parents, placed in guardianship with a relative or adopted by a foster family. The CASA volunteer makes a recommendation on placement and services to the judge and follows through until the case is closed.

To prepare a recommendation, the CASA/GAL volunteer talks with the child and speaks to parents, family members, foster parents, social workers, school officials, health providers and anyone else significant in the child’s life. The CASA/GAL volunteer also reviews records pertaining to the child – including school records, medical records, caseworker reports, and other documents.

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 to three year commitment or until the case is closed. However, a typical volunteer spends 10 hours a month on a case and the average length is three years.