Volunteer with us today!
As a Guardian, you get to be a voice for the abused, neglected and abandoned children right here in our community.
Children should never be silenced. Which is why we exist. Because of people like you who are volunteering as a Guardian ad Litem (GAL), children are hearing a new message:
They are worth it.
Make a lasting impact
When you decide to volunteer your time in this way, you are making a lasting impact on your community helping children who have been traumatized claim back their childhood and find safe, permanent homes. Did you know that as a Guardian, you decrease a child’s risk of entering the Juvenile Detention by 45%! That child you are advocating for? They are also now 8 times more likely to graduate high school because of your investment and 50% more likely to find safe, permanent homes and never re-enter care again. You can jump on board knowing, without a doubt you will change a life.
I’ve been a volunteer for about a year now and I can’t brag enough about the program. I’ve met so many wonderful people. Although sometimes the cases can be difficult and frustrating, I enjoy being a constant for my kids and being someone they can trust. I find joy in the little things like when one of my kids sees me, gets a big smile, and runs up to give me a hug. I take pride in the fact that my only goal is to simply advocate for their best interest. In short, I volunteer as a GAL because it’s flexible, time consuming only if you want it to be, and because I get to make a positive difference in my kids’ lives, even if it’s just a little bit.
It has been rewarding to stand beside children during traumatic seasons of their lives and to present their needs to the court. At the same time, we have been able to encourage their foster parents and to support their birth families in making positive changes.
Being new in the community, we wanted to find a place where we could serve and influence others in a helpful way. The possibility of working with the CASA program came up. After an online search, email communication and training, we were assigned our first case in May. While we began with a bit of trepidation, we have found the 3rd District Guardian staff and mentors extremely helpful. Additionally, we have been amazed at the openness of the community to support us as we seek information for our reports. The community seems to know that Guardians make a difference for the kids we represent.
I began to look for an organization with relatable interests, who cared for families and children and who could and did make a difference. This led me to the Guardian Ad Litem Program. I am enjoying the challenge to learn and to help. I hope to be connected to the GAL program for along time and welcome everyone else who might be considering the chance to work with children who need us.
We’d love to connect with you about volunteering! Contact us at email@example.com and our Volunteer Manager will reach out to you soon with next steps. Check out the FAQ’s below for more information!
Frequently Asked Questions About Our Program
“What is the difference between Guardian ad Litem and CASA? I hear both terms used.”
They are actually the same! CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. Guardian ad Litem is the formal legal term for CASA. Some organizations go by CASA, some by GAL, but we do the same thing!
“How do I get started?”
Please call or email us to set-up an appointment to meet with our Volunteer Manager. We’ll take it from there and show you the way to becoming a Guardian.
“What should I know about the 3rd District Guardian ad Litem Program?”
We are passionate about our mission to advocate for children and we support each other big time around here. We like to have some fun too and we’d love it if you popped in to say hi!
Our staff is structured in such a way so we can fully train, support and guide our volunteers through their entire experience as Guardians ad Litem.
We are a part of Idaho’s network of seven CASA programs. While we all serve the same mission, we are each our own independent non-profit organizations. Our program used to be combined with Ada County, but in November of 2016, we launched out on our own to better serve the communities we represent. Our goal? To train and guide Volunteers who represent children who have been removed from their family due to concerns about abuse or neglect, in our Idaho Court System.
“So what counties do you cover?”
We cover 6 counties! The 3rd Judicial District makes up Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette and Washington counties. Canyon county carries about 70% of our cases and 30% are in our other 5 counties.
“How many children does this organization represent?”
In 2018, we represented over 1,000 children in nearly 500 cases across all 6 counties.. In 2019, we are expecting the number we represent, and the number of children coming into care, to both increase.
How was the Guardian ad Litem (or CASA) program started in the first place?
During 1977, Seattle Superior Court Judge David Soukup was faced with making decisions on behalf of abused and neglected children with only the information provided by the state Child Protective Services. Soukup formulated the idea that volunteers could be dedicated to a case and speak for children’s best interests. Fifty volunteers immediately responded to his idea, which started a movement to provide better representation for abused and neglected children throughout the United States.
“How is this program funded?”
We are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded primarily through private donations and grants. Additionally, because the State of Idaho mandates that every child under the age of 12 in Protective Custody receives a Guardian ad Litem, we do receive a portion of a collective grant that is shared across all 7 districts to each CASA/GAL program based on the number of volunteers each program has serving children 12 and under.
“Do you need more funding?”
Yes! While generous private donors and grants have helped us grow exponentially in the last two years, we still aren’t able to advocate for every child who needs a GAL. In order to increase volunteers, we need a bigger capacity to provide support, training and coordination. Funding would help us increase our staff needs so we can support volunteers, growing our ability to advocate for EVERY child.
“Do you need more volunteers?”
With the number of children who are in care far out-weighing our current volunteer capacity, the answer is YES! We shout from the rooftops, WE NEED YOU! The six counties we currently represent hold the largest number of children in protective custody in the entire state. We currently are only able to handle about 40% of the cases that come in. More volunteers means more children are seen, heard and told, “You are worth it and you matter!” We’d love for you to consider joining the team.
“How many staff does the program have?”
We currently employ 4 full-time staff personnel and 3 part-timers, and are hoping to add to our team shortly.
“What do your staff members do?”
Currently, we have 2 full-time Advocate Coordinators, and 2 part-time Advocate Coordinators who manage and coordinate between our cases and our volunteers. We also have a Volunteer Manager in charge of retaining our volunteers through support, and maintaining their paperwork and compliance. Our Community Outreach Manager is in charge of advertising, recruitment, marketing, and development, and we an Executive Director of the program.
Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering
“What will be my role as a Guardian?”
A Guardian ad Litem, or CASA, is a volunteer who represents a child/ren who have been removed from all or part of their family due to abuse and/or neglect. The GAL gets to know the child and situation by visiting the child on a monthly basis, gathering information on how the child is doing, and writing a report for the Judge on what the GAL feels is the best interest for the child’s current and future health, safety, and happiness. As GALs, we get to be positive role-models, friends and mentors, and advocates. The meaningfulness of your job goes beyond warm, fuzzy thoughts of doing good for others. There are actual statistics that show if a child has a Guardian ad Litem advocating for them, they are 50% more likely to find a permanent and safe home and will not re-enter care. Additionally, they are 8 times more likely to graduate high school, and are 45% less likely to enter Juvenile Detention. What you do as a GAL makes a life-changing difference!
“What kinds of cases will I be working on?”
All our cases involve a child or sibling set who have been placed in Protective Care as a result of abuse and/or neglect. The children we serve have been traumatized by physical and sexual abuse, drug abuse, neglect and/or abandonment. We currently serve children 12 and under, but would love to serve all children and teens 18 and under who come into care. As more volunteers jump on board, we will be able to provide a voice for every child.
“What is the time commitment?”
Most cases last between 12 and 16 months, depending on the circumstances. Because of the high turnover rate with Social Workers and Foster Care homes, it is so important for a Guardian to remain with the case throughout its entire duration. As the Guardian, you become one of the only constants in the child’s life, which is what makes you so effective in helping the child find a safe and permanent home as quickly as possible.
One case typically takes 5-8 hours a month. This time includes a monthly visit to the child, any time spent gathering information about how the child is doing, and writing the report for the Judge. Many of our volunteers serve on one or two cases at a time and, when those cases close, take on another case or two.
“Will I receive any training?”
Yes! We love providing you with quality training! Our training process is a 3-step process.
1. Our Initial Training consists of 4 evening sessions where we teach you everything about our program, the in and out workings of a child protection case, and our role as GALs. As we go through each of the four weeks, you hear real case examples for how these roles play out in real time.
2. Your next phase of training is called Shadowing. After you complete the Initial Training, you are teamed up with an Advocate Coordinator (a member of our staff) who will walk you through all your “firsts” on your case. You never have to do this alone. We are here to support you every step of the way and provide a place to ask questions and debrief.
3. The final step of training we provide is ongoing education throughout your volunteer experience. We provide free monthly trainings to help you be the best advocate you can be!
“How often do I meet with the child I’m assigned to? Where will I meet them?”
A Guardian is required to visit the child they are assigned to a minimum of one time per month. The duration of the visit is left to the Guardian’s discretion. You are able to meet with the children at schools, doctors offices, therapist offices, biological family homes, foster family homes, parks, etc… Anywhere you are alone, but not isolated with the child, is a great place to have the opportunity to talk with them one-on-one.
“What age will the child be that I’m serving?”
Currently, we have a need for Volunteers to advocate for children ages 0-12 and 13-18. However, Guardians are able to let their Advocate Coordinator know the age they are most comfortable working with and their preferences.
“How will I report to the Judge?”
Guardians report to the Judge in reports, then they appear in Court where they are represented by an Attorney associated with the Guardian ad Litem program.
“What if I cannot attend a Court hearing?”
What’s special about the Third District Guardian ad Litem program is that all Guardian’s support each other. When a Guardian is unable to attend a Court hearing, a knowledgeable fellow Guardian will step forward and attend in their place.
“What reports do I need to write?”
Although the report writing seems to be daunting, it’s really not. Basically, reports are a summary of all the visits, interviews, and research the Guardian completes through the life of a case, as well as any concerns and suggestions. Fellow Guardians are on hand to help create and edit finished reports which are submitted to the Court prior to a hearing.
“What are the requirements in order to volunteer?”
It is the policy of the Third District Guardian ad Litem Program to reject any applicant that has been convicted of, or have charges pending for, a felony or misdemeanor involving a sex offense, child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, or any act that may pose risk to children or the Third District Guardian ad Litem Program’s integrity or credibility.
With that being said, the only requirements we ask, is that our volunteers are over 21, be able to pass a thorough background check, have a High School diploma, and an eagerness to help children.