This year, in partnership with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, we are conducting a new study of judges’ perspectives and use of CASA/GAL volunteers. Stay tuned for the results!
Our last related study was in 2005, when we engaged Organizational Research Services to conduct a national survey of family court judges. Over 550 judges and commissioners from 49 states completed the survey. Ninety percent of respondents used CASA/GAL volunteers in their courts.
The objective of the survey was to evaluate:
- the process used for assigning CASA/GAL volunteers to cases,
- the role CASA/GAL volunteers play in supporting judicial decision-making and court processes, and
- judicial satisfaction with local programs and volunteers.
Overall, judges agreed that the work of CASA/GAL volunteers is high-quality, beneficial to judicial decision-making and beneficial to the children and families served.
Learn about our model.
Among their findings were these:
- Judges were most likely to assign CASA volunteers their most difficult and complex cases. When assigning a case to a volunteer, they particularly considered the instability of the child’s current placement, conflicting case information, concerns about implementation of services, and whether the case involves extreme neglect, physical abuse or sexual abuse.
- Judges clearly valued input from CASA/GAL volunteers in their court decisions. Volunteer input was most highly valued for issues related to placement stability and the permanence and safety of the children while in placement.
- Judges reported that CASA volunteers’ activities have been “very useful” in their decisions about case outcomes.
- Judges found CASA volunteers to be very effective in a wide range of activities that support court processes. They found volunteers most effective in considering the best interests of the child and in monitoring the case.
- Nearly half (48%) of responding judges’ dependency cases were assigned to a CASA/GAL volunteer.
- There was general concern about the availability of CASA/GAL volunteers for court caseloads. Only 6% of judges “strongly agree[d]” that there were sufficient volunteers to meet the need.
Download the survey report or the executive summary.
Read about our impact.