Role of GAL & CASA
One of the OCR’s mandates is to work cooperatively with Colorado CASA on several fronts. (See C.R.S. §13-91-105.) First, the OCR supports Colorado CASA in the development of local CASA programs in each judicial district or in adjacent judicial districts. Second, the OCR develops and enhances funding sources to aid in the program’s expansion efforts. And, third, the OCR works with CASA to ensure that high-quality training opportunities are made available to CASA volunteers throughout the state.
Because of the OCR’s close relationship with CASA, it is important that our contract attorneys understand and appreciate the role that CASAs play in a D&N or domestic relations case. There are several models of the CASA program used throughout the state, and every attorney is encouraged to become familiar with the CASA program in their jurisdiction. To find out if you have a local CASA program, please consult the Colorado CASA web site.
The purpose of this web page is to provide a brief overview of the CASA program along with a list of resources for further understanding of the interrelated roles of the CASA volunteer and the GAL.
What does a CASA do?
When a CASA volunteer is appointed to a child’s case, he or she is responsible for taking the time to find out as much as possible about the child. CASA volunteers review records, interview parents, talk to teachers and neighbors, and, most importantly, they develop a relationship with the child(ren). In most jurisdictions, CASA volunteers submit separate reports to the court prior to a hearing and appear at the hearing to report on their findings.
• The primary responsibilities of a CASA are as follows (C.R.S. §19-1-208): Conduct an independent investigation
• Determine if an appropriate treatment plan has been created
• Make recommendations consistent with the best interests of the child regarding placement, visitation, and appropriate services for the child and family
• Monitor the case to ensure that the child's essential needs are being met
• Appear as a witness for any party, if requested
By handling only one case at a time, the CASA has time to explore the history of each case. Perhaps the most important contribution to the case is the CASA’s close, consistent contact with the children.
Who volunteers to be a CASA?
CASA volunteers are ordinary citizens at least 21 years of age. No special or legal background is required. Pursuant to C.R.S. §19-1-205, volunteers are screened through an application process which includes background and reference checks. CASAs are carefully chosen for their objectivity, competence and commitment. They are asked to make a minimum of a one-year commitment to the program.
What kind of training does a CASA receive?
C.R.S. §19-1-204 requires all CASA volunteers to complete a preservice training program which includes instruction on recognizing child abuse and neglect, cultural awareness, child development, the juvenile court process, permanency planning, volunteer roles and responsibilities, advocacy, information gathering, and documentation. CASAs are also required to complete at least 10 additional hours of in-service training per year. All non-attorney specific OCR trainings are open to CASA volunteers and may be used to satisfy the annual CASA training requirement.