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Evaluation of Court Appointed Special Advocates/Guardians Ad Litem Volunteer Impact

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2005
37 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of an evaluation of the impact on judicial decisionmaking, court processes, and case outcomes of the Court Appointed Special Advocates/Guardians ad litem (CASA/GAL) volunteers and program activities.
Based on responses to a survey of judges and commissioners involved in CASA/GAL, the evaluation findings pertain to the demographic characteristics of respondents and their jurisdictions; factors considered in assigning CASA/GAL advocacy to a case; the roles that CASA/GAL volunteers play in supporting judicial decisionmaking and court processes; and satisfaction with local CASA/GAL programs and volunteers. Respondents reported that the CASA/GAL volunteers were "very effective" in engaging in a wide range of activities that supported court processes. The volunteers were most effective in considering the best interests of children and in monitoring the case. They were slightly less effective in assisting with permanent placement for the child/youth. There was a general consensus that judges tended to assign the CASA/GAL volunteers to the most difficult cases. Generally, perceived effectiveness and satisfaction was higher among judges with a high percentage of cases assigned to CASA/GAL volunteers. Recommendations focus on more funding to increase the number of volunteers and improve recruitment and retention; increased training of volunteers; and the need for policies, procedures, and managerial oversight in the assignment and roles of volunteers. The survey was mailed to 2,288 judges and commissioners in early June 2005. Respondents represented the six regions of the country, with response rates ranging from a low of 17.53 percent in one region to a high of 30.28 percent in another region. The response rates in the other four regions ranged from 22.86 percent to 28.14 percent. 25 tables and appended details of data collection and data analysis, and qualitative responses