Important Information for Lawyers and Judges

CASA volunteers are lay-persons; they are not professional parenting evaluators or professional guardians ad litem. Our volunteer advocates must be at least 21 years old, pass a criminal background check, and complete our 21 hours of initial training. As lay-persons, our volunteer advocates do not make professional findings or diagnoses; they may request or recommend professional evaluations or other services based upon reported concerns and/or observed behaviors.

CASA’s mission is to serve children from lower income families that lack the financial resources to pay for professional services. As a privately funded non-profit organization with scarce resources, our free and low-cost services are necessarily limited. CASA receives zero government funding, zero court funding and zero national dependency CASA funding.  Services that exceed those described in our Overview of Services as free/low-cost will result in market rate fees charged in advance for lawyer, volunteer advocate and/or expert time/services and may be handled by contracted outside counsel.

CASA’s volunteer advocates are represented by counsel.  Attorneys should direct all questions and communications to CASA’s program attorney at 206-784-9700 or annmarie@familylawcasa.org. CASA’s legal administrator may be reached at 206-748-9700 or hannah@familylawcasa.org.

 

Attorneys, please read and review CASA’s Overview of Services with your client.

Printable Overview of Services

CASA’s free and low-cost services include*:

Volunteer advocates for the children are asked to complete the following with the cooperation of the parties:
• Interview each named party at least one time for each report
• Visit the parties’ homes at least one time for each report (safety permitting; limited to King County)
• Interview the child at least one time for each report
• Observe the child with the parent/party
• Contact 1-3 collaterals for each party
• Review the court file, pleadings, orders, reports, evaluations, assessments and documents submitted by the parties
• Request releases of information from the parties as needed for professional collaterals
• Write 1-2 reports for the court to include short-term recommendations for an interim hearing and/or long-term recommendations for trial/mediation
• Appear as a lay-person witness for a half day at trial

An attorney for CASA will:
• Appear at 1-2 hearings on the family law motions calendar
• Appear in-person or by phone for pre-trial conference
• Be available by phone during mediation or settlement conference
• Appear at trial to represent the volunteer advocate and will most often ask to be excused thereafter
• Communicate with counsel for the parties as needed

CASA Reports to the Court:
• Are distributed only to named parties, their attorneys and the court
• May be distributed 1 week prior to a hearing and 1 month prior to trial to allow for program oversight and legal consultation within our structured program
• Attorney-client communications are privileged. Internal supervisory and program management communications are privileged and/or work product. Only finalized reports are distributed; drafts are privileged and/or work-product.
• CASA will not release evaluations, assessments, test results or any document obtained from a service provider through a release of information without a court order. All professionals contacted will be listed and all documents reviewed will be summarized in CASA’s report to the court.  Parties and their counsel should seek records from original sources.

*Please note that each case is unique.  Volunteers may be asked to focus their limited time in a manner that varies from the above list as deemed appropriate by CASA.

See also the CASA Family Resources section of the website.