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Evidence of Effectiveness

Volunteer holding photo of girlSince its creation by a family court judge in Seattle, Court Appointed Special Advocates has become one of the most effective programs of its kind. Today there are 949 CASA programs around the country. It is a unique blend of private support, public need and the kind of people power that comes from more than 76,000 volunteers all committed to the rights of every child in the foster care and child welfare system.

Key Outcomes for the CASA/GAL Model

A child with a CASA/GAL volunteer is more likely to find a safe, permanent home:

  • More likely to be adopted (8, 9, 10, 11, 14)
  • Half as likely to reenter foster care (8, 11, 14)
  • Substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care (14)
  • More likely to have a plan for permanency, especially children of color (17)

Children with CASA volunteers get more help while in the system...

  • More services are ordered for the children (1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14)

... and are more likely to have a consistent, responsible adult presence. (1, 2, 12)

  • Volunteers spend significantly more time with the child than a paid guardian ad litem. (2)

Children with CASA volunteers spend less time in foster care... (15, 16)

  • “It is quite remarkable that children without CASA involvement are spending an average of
    over eight months longer in care, compared to children having CASA involvement.” (15)

... and are less likely to be bounced from home to home. (13, 15, 16)

  • CASA volunteers improve representation of children (18)
  • Reduce the time needed by lawyers (12)
  • More likely than paid lawyers to file written reports (3, 4, 5)
  • For each of nine duties, judges rated CASA/GAL volunteers more highly than attorneys (12)
  • Highly effective in having their recommendations adopted by the court (1)

Children with CASA volunteers do better in school... (13)

  • More likely to pass all courses
  • Less likely to have poor conduct in school
  • Less likely to be expelled

... and score better on nine protective factors (13)

  • Neighborhood resources, interested adults, sense of acceptance, controls against deviant behavior, models of conventional behavior, positive attitude towards the future, valuing achievement, ability to work with others and ability to work out conflicts


1. Caliber Associates, National CASA Association Evaluation Project, Caliber Associates; Fairfax, Virginia, 2004.
2. Donald D. Duquette and Sarah H. Ramsey, “Using Lay Volunteers to Represent Children in Child Protection Court Proceedings” (Appendix C). Child Abuse and Neglect 10(3): p. 293-308, 1986.
3. Sherrie S. Aitken, Larry Condelli, and Tom Kelly, Final Report of the Validation and Effectiveness Study of Legal Representation Through Guardian Ad Litem. Report submitted to the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Department of Health and Human Services, by CSR, Inc.: Washington, DC, 1993.
4. Karen C. Snyder, John D. Downing, and Jill A. Jacobson, A Report to the Ohio Children’s Foundation on the Effectiveness of the CASA Program of Franklin County. The Strategy Team: Columbus, OH, 1996.
5. Victoria Weisz and Nghi Thai, “The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program: Bringing information to Child Abuse and Neglect Cases,” Child Maltreatment 8(X), 2003.
6. Larry Condelli, National Evaluation of the Impact of Guardians Ad Litem in Child Abuse and Neglect Judicial Proceedings. Report submitted to the National Center of Child Abuse and Neglect for the Administration of Children, Youth and Families by CSR, Inc.: Washington, DC, 1988.
7. Litzelfelner, “The Effectiveness of CASAs in Achieving Positive Outcomes for Children,” Child Welfare 79(2): p. 179-193, 2000.
8. John Poertner and Allan Press, “Who Best Represents the Interests of the Child in Court?” Child Welfare 69(6): p. 537-549, 1990.
9. Gene C. Siegel, et al., Arizona CASA effectiveness study. Report to the Arizona Supreme Courts, Administrative Office of the Courts, Dependent Children’s Services Division, by the National Center for Juvenile Justice, 2001.
10. Susan M. Profilet, et al., Guardian ad Litem Project. Child Advocates Inc., 1999.
11. Michael Powell and Vernon Speshock, Arizona Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program, Internal Assessment, 1996.
12. Ohio CASA/GAL Study Committee Report
13. University of Houston and Child Advocates, Inc., Making a Difference in the Lives of Abused and Neglected Children: Research on the Effectiveness of a Court Appointed Special Advocate Program
14. Office of the Inspector General, Audit Report 07-04, December, 2006
15. Cynthia A. Calkins, M.S., and Murray Millar, Ph.D., “The Effectiveness of Court Appointed Special Advocates to Assist in Permanency Planning,” Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, volume 16, number 1, February 1999.
16. Patrick Leung. "Is the Court-Appointed Special Advocate Program Effective? A Longitudinal Analysis of Time Involvement and Case Outcomes," Child Welfare 75(3), p. 269-284, 1996.
17. Shareen Abramson, “Use of Court-Appointed Advocates to Assist in Permanency Planning for Minority Children,” Child Welfare 70(4): p. 477-487, 1991.
18. Davin Youngclarke, Kathleen Dyer Ramos, and Lorraine Granger-Merkle, "A Systematic Review of the Impact of Court Appointed Special Advocates” Journal of the Center for Families, Children and the Courts, 2004


The US Department of Justice has supported CASA advocacy since 1985 through its Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
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