Lead Judge Project Background and Goals

From 2003-2008, the National CASA Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges established the Judicial Liaison Committee. Members of this committee included National Council Judges, National CASA state directors and staff from both organizations. One project of the Judicial Liaison Committee was the Lead Judge Project. The purpose of this project was to enhance collaboration between members of the state court judiciary and state and local CASA/GAL programs. The Judicial Liaison Committee encouraged the selection of one or more judges in each state who would serve as lead or key contact judges to work with state and local CASA/GAL programs.

The principle goals of the Lead Judge Project have been to increase knowledge in the judicial and legal community of the role of CASA/GAL programs and volunteers; to educate members of the judicial and legal communities regarding National CASA Association standards for state and local programs and the quality assurance process; to offer joint leadership to explore expansion of the number of CASA/GAL programs and increase the quality of those programs in each state; to provide mentoring and technical assistance for communities with CASA/GAL start-up projects; and to increase communication and collaboration between the CASA/GAL network and the judicial and legal communities in each state.

Lead Contact Judge Job Description

Purpose: To enable the state director to develop a relationship with a judge in his or her state for the purpose of promoting CASA programs and to provide counsel and education about CASA to the judiciary and the community.

In collaboration with the state director, lead contact judges in each state will mentor judges in communities seeking to establish a CASA/GAL program, facilitate trouble shooting in jurisdictions where the CASA/GAL program may be out of compliance with National CASA standards (typically because of judicial or program practices) and will demonstrate leadership and innovation in promoting and supporting CASA programs within the judicial community and to the public.

Qualifications to Consider for the Lead Contact Judge: The lead contact judge’s qualifications include:

  • Providing significant help to abused and neglected children by working with a CASA/GAL program
  • Working with a CASA/GAL program in his/her jurisdiction that is considered to be a quality program that is operating in compliance with national and state standards
  • Demonstrating leadership and innovation in promoting and supporting CASA programs within the judicial community and to the public
  • Making contributions to the advancement of children’s issues and exemplifying exceptional leadership in furthering consistent quality representation of children
  • Understanding core principles and policies of national, state and local programs, including:
    • The CASA/GAL volunteer’s role in court
    • The CASA/GAL program’s governance and funding
    • The working relationship with between the state office and the local program
    • The enabling state statute for CASA/GAL
    • The National CASA Association’s quality assurance standards and processes

Possible Duties and Requirements for the Lead Contact Judge: The lead contact judge works collaboratively with the state director when consulting with judges and programs about CASA/GAL. Duties may include:

  • Being accessible to the national, state and local office for consultation
  • Providing mentoring for CASA/GAL judges when the need arises
  • Providing judicial expertise for training purposes and quality assurance issues
  • Providing education and updates about state laws and revisions for the volunteer training manual
  • Being available to participate with NCJFCJ and National CASA in training and educational opportunities
  • Promoting and supporting CASA on the state and national level
  • Assisting in recruiting judges in judicial communities without CASA/GAL programs

Articles About the Lead Judge Project

The Lead Judge Project was piloted in the state of Georgia under the joint leadership of Judge R. Michael Key, Treasurer of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and Georgia CASA Director Duaine Hathaway. The following articles describe the Georgia experience.

Additional Information About Judicial Collaboration Activities

A survey was sent to National CASA state directors to gather information about the judicial collaboration activities occurring in each state. Read the summary of responses (30 KB PDF).

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