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2020 Standards for Local CASA/GAL Programs Adopted

The National CASA/GAL Board of Trustees has adopted the 2020 Standards for Local CASA/GAL Programs as the standards that will direct local program governance, management, operations and practice.

Thanks to all of you who gave your time and leadership to revise these standards. This work represents the culmination of several years involving numerous individuals across the network, and marks a significant milestone. The revision of the standards reflects one of the building blocks in our focus on becoming highly effective at the national, state and local levels, as well as our unwavering commitment to providing quality best interest volunteer advocacy for children who have experienced abuse or neglect.

The Standards for Local CASA/GAL Programs were last revised in 2012. In April 2017, National CASA/GAL began revising both state and local standards. With participation from across the network, state standards were adopted first, and the local standards and accompanying elements of practice were then developed. During network comment periods, local programs and state organizations were able to provide feedback that was considered for incorporation. The standards were voted on and recommended by the National, State and Local Leadership Councils, then approved and adopted by the National CASA/GAL Board of Trustees at their September 2020 meeting.

Key features are:

  • Local program standards were divided into two separate documents; one for nonprofit programs and one for publicly administered programs to better reflect their different governance structures.
  • Addition of the Core Model to the Mission standard and a new Guiding Principles standard, which recognizes the importance of family preservation and reunification, equity, diversity, inclusion and collaboration.
  • The number of standards has been reduced from 14 to 11.
  • Elements of practice, or sub-standards, have been reduced from 696 to 514 for publicly administered programs, and to 568 for nonprofit programs.
  • The 2012 document organization has been maintained for familiarity.
  • The 11 standards are included below for your reference. A full version of the standards, along with required documents and information about the initial stage of the local quality assurance (QA) process, will be released in the coming weeks.

Standards at a Glance

Standard 1. Core Model and Mission
Adheres to the National CASA/GAL Association for Children’s Core Model of providing screened, trained, and qualified community court appointed volunteers to advocate for the best interests of children and youth who are before the court as a result of abuse or neglect as defined by the state child welfare laws, living at home or in out-of-home care, as well as operates in alignment with the mission. CASA/GAL volunteers advocate for children from birth through the age defined by the state statute as the limit to youth remaining in care.

Standard 2. Guiding Principles
Provides best-interest advocacy for children as reflected in these guiding principles which recognize the importance of family preservation and reunification, equity, diversity, inclusion and collaboration.

Standard 3. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Commits to diversity, equity and inclusion and demonstrates these qualities in its own operations, governance, management and quality advocacy for children.

Standard 4. Ethical Conduct and Confidentiality
Upholds the credibility, integrity, dignity and reliability of CASA/GAL advocacy by conducting all interactions in an honest, fair, respectful and compassionate manner. The program incorporates policies and practices to avoid conflicts of interest and preserve confidentiality.

Standard 5. Governance and Administration
Oversees and ensures compliance with applicable laws, regulations, fiduciary obligations, written agreements, standards and financial sustainability of the program.

Standard 6. Management and Funding
Demonstrates mission-oriented leadership in operations management and is a responsible steward of all resources in order to maximize advocacy for children who are eligible for and in need of a CASA/GAL volunteer.

Standard 7. Human Resources
Follows written policies for recruiting, screening, training, supervising, evaluating and developing staff from diverse backgrounds in an equitable and inclusive environment that advances the CASA/GAL mission.

Standard 8. Volunteer Administration
Follows written policies for recruiting, screening, training, supporting, supervising, recognizing and retaining volunteers to fulfill the role and duties of court appointed special advocates/guardians ad litem, in accordance with applicable laws, rules, regulations and standards.

Standard 9. Public Education and Engagement
Communicates and actively engages with stakeholders and the general public to provide information and build support for the CASA/GAL mission, and the needs of children who have experienced abuse or neglect.

Standard 10. Data and Records
Compiles, maintains, manages and reports quality data and information in accordance with applicable laws, policies and/or standards. The program maintains complete, accurate and current case records and volunteer files.

Standard 11. Network and Membership
Maintains membership with National CASA/GAL Association and is a member or an affiliate of the state CASA/GAL organization (if one exists) and meets the standards, requirements and policies of both.

Next Steps

  • There will be a workshop each day at the National CASA/GAL Virtual Conference on Oct. 20 and 21, to review the standards with highlights and a comparison to the 2012 version. We will also provide an introduction to the initial phase of the new local quality assurance (QA) process.
  • In the coming weeks, all executive directors (or equivalents) will receive a full copy of the standards by email, to include a listing of documents related to the standards and information about the local QA process.
  • The standards and related resources will be available on the Member Portal in the next few weeks, in the Program Quality, Standards & Guidance section. We will notify you when they are posted.
  • There will be a full-year transition period for local programs to learn in greater detail about the standards and prepare for the formal QA process. During this one-year rollout period, National CASA/GAL will offer:
    • an introduction in November to the overall standards
    • separate sessions to review the standards for nonprofit and publicly administered programs
    • workshops detailing the QA process
    • workshops on specific standards and how to meet them
    • webinars and other educational opportunities, to orient local programs to the revised standards

Quality Assurance
The new QA process will focus on how local programs operationalize the elements of practice of the standards. National CASA/GAL is strongly committed to high quality best interest advocacy and will support this commitment through technical assistance to the local network to achieve these standards, based upon the programs’ varying models, governing structures, resources and legislative and court authority.

Questions can be directed to: Please use the subject line, “Local Standards.”