Volunteer Job Description
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)/Guardian ad Litem
Volunteer Job Description
Revised – March, 2010
Basic Function: A CASA/GAL is a trained community volunteer appointed by the Juvenile Abuse/Neglect Court Judge to speak for the best interests of an abused, neglected or dependent child.
In Winnebago County, the CASA volunteer is appointed as Guardian ad litem for the child he or she represents.
A volunteer has three main roles:
1) to serve as a party to the court proceedings, acting as a fact finder for the judge;
2) to speak for the child in the courtroom, either directly or through the attorney representing CASA, representing the child’s best interests;
3) to act as a “watchdog” for the child during the life of the case, working along with social workers, counselors and other involved professionals, making every effort to bring the case to a swift and appropriate conclusion.
By handling only one or two families at a time (in most instances), the CASA has time to thoroughly explore the history and circumstances of each assigned case.
Supervision: Direct supervision and guidance is provided by the CASA case management staff and by the Program Director if a problem arises involving a serious and unusual case situation, or if a conflict arises between the CASA/GAL and the involved social service agency or between the CASA and one of the attorneys involved in the court proceeding.
Major Duties and Responsibilities:
¨ Complete an extensive, independent review of each case:
- Meet face-to-face with child at least once a month, and meet at least once, face to face, before the beginning of the Adjudicatory hearing (per IL Juvenile Court Act).
- Act as an independent gatherer of information, speaking with the child and relevant adults (parents, involved family members, school officials, medical personnel and others involved in the child’s life who might have facts about the case);
- Review appropriate records and reports;
- Observe the child and significant others.
¨ Report findings to the court by submitting formal reports to the Judge at scheduled hearings/reviews; that is, providing a written report containing factual information discovered since the last court date, and containing recommendations as to what is in the best interests of the child; said reports need to be provided to the CASA office at least 5 business days prior to every hearing and are to be approved by the Program Director or designated office staff
¨ Insure representation of the child’s best interest:
- Attend all court hearings to see that all relevant facts are presented and to be well informed about the status of the legal proceedings;
- Attend appropriate staffings and agency reviews regarding the child;
¨ Monitor case following a court hearing or decision as designated by the court:
- Ensure, to the best of CASA’s ability, that the judicial and child welfare systems are moving ahead, in a timely manner, to secure a safe, permanent home for the child;
- Ensure, to the best of CASA’s ability, that court-ordered services are provided, in a timely manner, to the child and family.
- Ensure, to the best of CASA’s ability, that parties are attending appointments as to recommended services.
¨ Consult regularly with the CASA case management staff, and with caseworkers, counselors and other professionals involved with the family.
¨ Ask that the matter be brought back into Court if an emergency situation requires court intervention to be sure that the child is safe and that necessary services are being provided
¨ Report any suspected incident of child abuse or neglect, or any situation in which the CASA has reason to believe the child is in imminent danger, to the CASA case management staff and/or the CASA Program Director; make the appropriate “hot line” call as required of mandated reporters
¨ Always keep in mind the goal of providing the child with a safe, permanent home
¨ CASA volunteers are required to attend at least 30 hours of training, and 12 hours of in-service (on-going) training annually.
¨ CASA volunteers follow guidelines established by the National CASA Association and by Illinois CASA .
¨ CASA volunteers have access to additional training opportunities offered by other agencies.
¨ CASA volunteers receive direct supervision and guidance from program staff.
¨ CASA volunteers are encouraged to call the staff at any time with any questions/concerns.
¨ Volunteers are required to make an 18 – 24 month commitment to the program.
¨ Volunteers are required to attend all court hearings on their cases, unless the hearing is one where attendance is not required, such as a status regarding discovery where attorneys only are required to attend.
¨ Volunteers are expected to be available for case assignment and to accept cases upon completion of all training requirements, and after being sworn in by the Juvenile Court Judge, unless other arrangements have been made.
¨ CASA volunteers, on the average, spend 10 – 15 hours a month on each case.
Necessary Knowledge, Skills, and Requirements:
¨ Ability to keep all client and court information confidential, in accordance with the Winnebago County CASA Confidential Policy, dtd. 11/9/00.
¨ Agreement to abide by the Winnebago Co. CASA Foster Parent Policy, dtd. 3/14/95, if applicable
¨ Ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.
¨ Ability to respect and relate to people from various backgrounds.
¨ Ability to maintain objectivity and to exhibit good common sense.
¨ Ability to transport self (ownership of an automobile), and agreement not to transport the child.
¨ Willingness to submit to CANTS/LEADS background checks
¨ Willingness to provide three references before the Swearing-in Ceremony
¨ Attendance at the Swearing-in Ceremony or cooperation with other arrangements made with the Juvenile Court Judge to be sworn in at a later date.
¨ A basic understanding of child development and family relationships.
¨ The CASA/GAL will receive no monetary or other form of compensation for the work performed on their cases
¨ The CASA/GAL will not supervise visitation between the child and the parents, grandparents, etc.
¨ The CASA/GAL will not bring the child into his/her home
¨ The CASA/GAL will not provide any service deemed to be the responsibility of the social service agency(ies) involved with the child.
¨ Completion of education resulting in either a high school diploma or GED.
¨ Must be 21 years of age.
Advocates are to conduct themselves in an ethical manner which upholds the credibility and dignity of the CASA mission by conducting all business in an honest, fair, professional and humane manner. Advocates shall not at any time bring discredit to the CASA Program.