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Judges Find CASA Volunteers Useful and EffectiveBut in Limited Supply

In June 2005, the National CASA Association engaged Organizational Research Services to conduct a national survey of family court judges. Over 550 judges and commissioners completed the survey, with 90% of respondents using CASA and guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteers in their courts. There was representation from all regions of the country except Washington, DC and Hawaii. The objective of this survey was to evaluate:

  • The process used for assigning CASA/GAL volunteers to cases
  • The role CASA volunteers play in supporting judicial decision-making and court processes
  • Judicial satisfaction with local CASA program and volunteers

Overall, judges agree that the work of CASA/GAL volunteers is high quality, beneficial to judicial decision-making and beneficial to the children and families served. An executive summary (100 KB PDF) of the survey’s findings is available for download, as is the full report with appendices (2 MB PDF) and without appendices (170 KB PDF).  

Primary
results:

Nearly half (48%) of responding judges’ dependency cases are assigned to a CASA/GAL volunteer.

Judges are most likely to assign CASA volunteers their most difficult and complex cases. When assigning a case to a volunteer, they particularly consider the instability of the child’s current placement, conflicting case information, concerns about implementation of services and extreme neglect, physical abuse or sexual abuse.

Judges clearly value input from CASA/GAL volunteers in their court decisions. Volunteer input is most highly valued on issues related to placement stability and the permanence and safety of the children while in placement.

Judges report that CASA volunteers’ activities have been “very useful” in their decisions about case outcomes.

Judges find CASA volunteers to be very effective in a wide range of activities that support court processes. They find volunteers most effective in considering the best interests of the child and in monitoring the case.

There is general concern about the availability of CASA/GAL volunteers for court caseloads. Only 6% of judges “strongly agree” that there are sufficient volunteers to meet the need.

If you would like to review the judicial survey evaluating the impact of CASA volunteers, please see the links above or request a hard copy by emailing staff@nationalcasa.org.

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