The mission of the Lucas County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA/GAL) Program is to serve the best interest of abused and neglected children in the juvenile court system. We provide quality volunteer advocacy for children to ensure each child a safe, permanent, nurturing home
The Lucas County, Ohio Juvenile Court created a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer program in 1980. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) are citizen volunteers, trained by the Court as guardians ad litem (GAL) to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children. CASA advocates investigate a child’s social and emotional background, make recommendations to the Court regarding disposition of the case, and monitor the child victim until he or she is no longer involved in the Court system. The goal of the Juvenile Court, the CASA Department, and the CASA volunteer, is to ensure that an abused child’s right to a safe, permanent home is acted upon in an insightful and expedient manner. The CASA volunteer follows the case to its satisfactory conclusion with the child’s best interest and common sense paramount at all times.
Ohio law (The Ohio Revised Code 2151) requires a qualified Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) to be appointed to every abused or neglected child brought into the protection of the juvenile court system; the guardian ad litem may be a trained volunteer (CASA) or a paid attorney. The Lucas County Juvenile Court is committed to utilizing CASA volunteers (when available) in order to guarantee excellence in advocacy for these children who, through no fault of their own, find themselves enmeshed in the juvenile justice system.
The Court Appointed Special Advocate program is innovative by design. Through the CASA Department, Lucas County Juvenile Court judges invite ordinary citizens into the juvenile justice system to do extraordinary work. The tax-dollar savings are substantial, but it is the combination of citizens working with government to produce amazing results that is unique. The Court trains its CASA volunteers, assigns them a monumental task, and then listens very carefully to what the citizen-advocate has to say. This unique program ensures that our community’s abused and neglected children are heard clearly in courtrooms so that shattered lives can be mended and these children will have a chance at safe, permanent, nurturing homes and bright, productive futures.
CASA work can be demanding and arduous. Each case may require two years or more of advocacy. It requires that volunteers leave the comfort of their ordered lives and willingly enter a world of broken dreams, unspeakable acts, splintered lives, and chaos. The CASA/GAL is asked to understand the plight of the child and family, make order out of turmoil, become a trusted friend to the child, and determine a way to keep the child safe and allow him to thrive. It is no small task. It is caring 24 hours a day for as long as it takes and letting go when the work is done.
But we know that a volunteer’s gift of time and caring allows abused and neglected children to heal and even flourish. CASA volunteers make a difference, one person and one child at a time.
In 2013, the Lucas County CASA/GAL department was able to provide CASA volunteer advocates to 663 child victims of abuse or neglect. Since 1980, local CASA volunteers have served as guardians ad litem to over 10,000 children.
Additional information available on CASA Fact Sheet.