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Explanations and Descriptions

Advocate:  A CASA/GAL volunteer who has gone through the 40 hour training program and have been officially sworn in by the Juvenile Court Judge.

Advocate Supervisor:  CASA program staff members who provide support, resouces and case management to CASA/GAL volunteers on their cases.

General Information Meeting:  Local CASA programs occassionally hold informational meetings in various cities throughout Illinois for individuals who are interested in learning more about becoming a CASA/GAL volunteer. Unless otherwise noted, there is no reservation required to attend these meetings, as most of them are drop-in and last no more than 45 mins to 1 hour.

Permanency:  Having an understanding of what permanency means is an extremely critical component of planning for children and youth in foster care. CASA/GAL volunteers can play a pivotal role in assuring permanency for the children they serve by understanding what permanency offers and what volunteers can do to ensure it.

Permanency provides:

– An enduring family relationship that is safe and meant to last a lifetime.

– The legal rights and social status of full family membership.

– Lifelong connections to extended family, siblings and other significant adults, family history and traditions, race and ethnic heritage, culture, religion and language.

GAL vs. Friend of the Court

Guardian ad Litem (GAL):  Guardians are adults who are legally responsible for protecting the well-being and interests of their ward, who is usually a minor. A Guardian ad Litem is a unique type of guardian in a relationship that has been created by a court order only for the duration of a legal action. Courts appoint these special representatives for infants, minors, and mentally incompetent persons, all of whom generally need help protecting their rights in court.

Throughout the State of Illinois there are 13 Guardian ad Litem programs that are housed in CASA programs. Volunteers from other CASA programs without GAL status are considered to be a Friend of the Court. The following distinguishes the differences between these two program models:

 

CASA/GAL Team Model

  1. Appointed by the Court
  2. Given access to all pertinent court files, reports and other information pertaining to the child
  3. Must maintain regular contact with the child
  4. May establish contact with all persons having contact with and impact upon the child (teachers, counselors, etc)
  5. Must be assigned at the beginning of the case
  6. Must be present at all court hearings
  7. May submit reports. May be called as a witness
  8. Is a party to the case
  9. Must be represented by an attorney
  10. May file motions
  11. May cross examine witnesses
  12. May call witnesses of his/her own
  13. May present other evidence
  14. May present oral argument to the court directly addressing the positions and recommendations of other parties

CASA as Friend of the Court Model

  1. Appointed by the Court
  2. Given access to all pertinent court files, reports and other information pertaining to the child
  3. Must maintain regular contact with the child
  4. Establishes contact with all persons having contact with and impact upon the child (teachers, counselors, etc) and gathers information from them
  5. May be assigned at the beginning of a case (usually is)
  6. May be present at all court hearings (usually is and  often gives verbal report)
  7. Submits reports to the court providing information and tendering recommendations as to the best interests of the child
  8. Is not a party to the case
  9. Is not represented by an attorney