Program FAQs

Family Strengthening Education

Any adult or family who have or are expecting children.

No, our programs are voluntary on a first come, first serve basis. Although, if we have a waitlist of families and cannot serve all of them then we utilize a priority of seven measurables to define “at-risk” families and who to serve first.

Parenting classes are offered in a 10-week series we call the Family Resiliency Course. This course is offered quarterly.

A parent must attend 75% of a course (6-16 classes) in order to receive a certificate of completion.

All courses are free and we welcome all parents.

Please contact our Program Administrator for any upcoming course information and enrollment questions by emailing enroll@familyadvocates.org.

 

CASA Volunteer

A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) or Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteer is a specially trained citizen appointed by the court to represent a child victim in an active Child Protection case, which involved abuse, neglect or abandonment.

Nothing. In Idaho the terms are interchangeable.

Advocates for the best interest of a child. A trained CASA provides the judge with carefully researched details about the child to help the court make a sound decision about that child’s future. The CASA volunteer recommends to the judge what the child needs to be safe and what is in the best interest for a permanent home. The CASA makes recommendations to the judge in the form of a report, attends the child’s hearings and follows through on the case until it is permanently closed.

CASA volunteers receive 30 hours of classroom instruction from program staff, and other professionals in our community. Thereafter, volunteers are required to fulfill 12 hours of in-service training per year.

To prepare a recommendation, the CASA volunteer talks with the child, parents, family members, case managers, school officials, health providers, and others who are knowledgeable about the child’s history. The CASA volunteer also reviews all records pertaining to the child – school, medical, case manager reports, and other pertinent documents.

Social workers are employed by the State of Idaho and manage up to 20 cases at a time while CASA volunteers are able to provide their full attention to just one family at a time. No state agency could ever afford to provide the kind of one-on-one assistance that CASA makes available to children and families. The CASA volunteer does not replace the social worker; CASAs are an independent appointee of the court. The CASA volunteer can thoroughly examine a child’s case, has knowledge of community resources, and can make a recommendation to the court independent of state agency restrictions.

Our CASA program requires a minimum two-year commitment with the ultimate goal of the volunteer continuing until the case is permanently resolved and permanency has been achieved. This too is a primary benefits of the CASA program is that, unlike other court participants who often rotate cases, the CASA volunteer is a consistent figure in the proceedings and provides continuity for a child.

CASA volunteers come from all walks of life with a variety of professional, educational, and ethnic backgrounds.

Each case is different. A CASA volunteer does research and conducts interviews prior to the first court appearance. Once initiated into the system, volunteer advocates work, on average, 10 hours per month depending on the complexity of the case to which they are assigned.

Our CASA program depends on the communities in the 4th Judicial District of Idaho to support our service. Foundations, corporations, fundraising events, annual giving, and grants are just some examples of the ongoing support received by this CASA programs.

Research suggests that children who have been assigned CASA volunteers tend to spend less time within the foster care system than those who do not have a CASA volunteer. Judges have also observed that children assigned a CASA have better chances of finding permanent homes than children not assigned a CASA.

There are 7 independent CASA programs serving each of the Judicial Districts in Idaho. Every county has a CASA program.

There are many ways you can donate.

Visit our Give page

We would be happy to talk with you or forward any information you may need. Please contact us [ insert link]. Feel free to call 208-891-4385 to speak with Maggie Thompson, CASA Program Director.

CASA Pro Bono Attorney

As required by Idaho Code § 16-1614, once a GAL is appointed to the child protection case by the court, CASA supervisors assign both a volunteer GAL and a volunteer attorney. If the attorney has no conflicts and agrees to take the case, the attorney files a Notice of Appearance.

The length of time depends on the case. On average, cases last approximately 14 months. If parental rights are ultimately terminated or the child remains in a long-term placement until the child(ren) turns 18, it could be two years or more.

Most attorney time is devoted to reviewing/submitting GAL reports, facilitating communication on procedural matters with Idaho Department of Health and welfare and parent’s attorneys, responding to GAL questions, filing/arguing motions when the GAL position requires it, and offering direct or cross-examination of witnesses during hearings. It is rare that GAL attorneys submit written briefs or argue on appeal.

The attorney represents the GAL as a volunteer, who is an agent of the CASA program. Our volunteer attorneys do not represent the GAL in their individual capacity.

No. Malpractice insurance can be obtained through the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program (IVLP). Once a volunteer attorney has agreed to represent a GAL, the CASA program notifies the Idaho Law Foundation’s Idaho Volunteer Lawyer Program (IVLP) of your legal representation. Within five business days of receiving this notice (or earlier upon request), IVLP will send the volunteer attorney a letter indicating that they will be covered by its malpractice insurance. IVLP’s malpractice coverage is secondary to any other malpractice insurance policies. At case closure, CASA program notifies IVLP that the case has closed and, IVLP will send the volunteer attorney another letter acknowledging the final disposition thereof.

It is important that our pro bono attorneys know they are not alone. You can solicit help from our Contract Counsel, through Naylor and Hales P.C., or from the other 100+ volunteer attorneys who also do this work. The CASA program can provide you contact information of other attorneys to contact with questions of a procedural or substantive nature.

The Idaho Supreme Court has resources on their website. Resources on this page include judicial bench cards and the child protection manual, which contain detailed practice information for each stage of the child protection proceeding. You can also reach out to the 4th Judicial District CASAs Attorney Liaison by clicking here.