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Achieving Our Mission: A Management Guide for
State CASA & GAL Organizations
Co-Director, Arkansas CASA
A National CASA Association
Resource Library Publication
National Court Appointed
Special Advocate Association
100 West Harrison Street
North Tower, Suite 500
Seattle, WA 98119
This project was supported by Cooperative Agreement No. 2002-CH-BX-K001 from the Office of Juvenile Justice
and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S.
Department of Justice.
2004 National CASA Association The National CASA Association Mission Statement Our mission is to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children who are involved in the juvenile courts. The National CASA Association works with state and local CASA and volunteer guardian ad litem programs to promote and support quality volunteer advocacy to help assure each child a safe, permanent and nurturing home.
Acknowledgements This handbook is the result of hard work on the part of many people. National CASA would like to express it’s thanks to State Director of the Arkansas State CASA Association Diane Robinson who gave an enormous amount of time and dedication to Achieving Our Mission: A Management Guide for State CASA & GAL Organizations. Thank you also to National CASA Director of Program Development Sally Erny who served as the staff liaison for the project.
The following state directors served as the advisory committee for this project and their involvement greatly shaped the direction of this project. Their willingness to be involved, knowledge about state CASA/GAL issues, commitment to the project and willingness to review numerous drafts will have a positive impact on the CASA/GAL network for years to come.
Megan Ferland—Texas CASA Brian O’Connell—New Mexico CASA Network Ginny Rudloff—Minnesota Association of Guardians ad Litem Becky Smith—Oregon Commission on Children & Families Jane Volland—North Carolina State GAL Program Darlene Ward—Advocates for Children of New York State.
The resources provided at the end of each chapter are primarily National CASA documents and sample documents from state organizations. We are grateful to the following individuals who also contributed: Donna Gay, Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts; Ed Kilcullen, Maryland CASA Association; Barbara Mattison, Colorado CASA; Elizabeth McCormick, Alabama CASA Network, Inc.; Lynn Shreve, CASA Program/ Family Court of Delaware; Jackie Wilson, Ohio CASA/GAL Association; Robin Allen, California CASA Association; Duaine E. Hathaway, Georgia CASA; Loralea Liss, Illinois CASA; Charlene Lund, South Dakota CASA Association; Janette Meis, Kansas CASA Association; Becky Smith, Oregon Commission on Children & Families; Jane Volland, North Carolina State GAL Program; Cathy Cockerham, Texas CASA; Liza Kirschenbaum, CASA of New Jersey;
Patricia Wagner, Michigan Association of Court Appointed Special Advocates; Becky Smith, Oregon Commission on Children & Families; Melissa O’Neill, Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services; Gail Shearer, CASA of the Virgin Islands; Marcia Sink, CASA of New Hampshire, Inc.; Charlotte Thomason, Tennessee CASA Association; Darlene Ward, CASA: Advocates for Children of New York State; Ginny Rudloff, Minnesota Association of Guardians ad Litem; Bruce Oudekerk; Mary Gratch, National CASA Association Curriculum Advisory Committee; Marion Hallum, Alaska CASA; Ruth Kravitz, North Carolina State GAL Program; Sandra Miller, Center for Arkansas Legal Services; John Stout, Washington State Association of CASA/GAL Programs; Brenda Dickerson, Alaska CASA;
Diane Payne, Tribal Law and Policy Institute; Linda Wright, Arizona CASA Program.
Diane Robinson would like to especially thank her husband Wayne for being incredibly supportive and serving as grammar expert. She also expresses thanks to her job-share partner Terri Looney, for her support of this project.
Table of Contents Introduction
Chapter 1: Role of the State Organization
Chapter 2: Working with Local Programs
Chapter 3: Board Development
Chapter 4: Evaluation, Data & Planning
Chapter 5: Resource Development
Chapter 6: Public Relations
Chapter 7: Financial Management
Chapter 8: Risk Management
Chapter 9: Technology
Chapter 10: New Program Development & Expansion of Services
Chapter 11: Human Resources
Chapter 12: Relationships with National CASA & Other Agencies
Chapter 13: Working with Tribal Programs & Native American Children............. 307 Chapter 14: Training
Chapter 15: Awards & Recognition
Chapter 16: Transitions
Introduction This guide for state organizations is intended to be a resource and best practices guide for state directors. It is also meant to help orient new state directors to the rewarding and challenging work of state CASA/GAL organizations. This handbook is not intended to serve as a standards document.
Each chapter of this guide contains:
narrative and discussion
chapter review questions
chapterNote: State CASA/GAL organizations vary greatly. This handbook is written to be as broadly applicable as possible, but not everything will apply to all organizations. For example, this handbook refers to “local programs.” Many state organizations work with local programs that are independent, self-governing organizations; however others have local offices directly supervised by the state organization and some state organizations are single statewide programs with no local offices or local programs. While the relationship is very different in these situations, the basic principles should apply.
The variety of responsibilities involved in running a state office differ: promoting CASA on a statewide level, educating the public about CASA, working with other child welfare agencies and dealing with “big picture” planning, evaluations and quality assurance issues.
But the heart of the state office is working collaboratively with and supporting local programs in a variety of ways: starting CASA programs, helping existing programs expand, providing technical assistance and legislative education as well as generally “lightening the load” for local programs. Perhaps most gratifying is getting to know the inspirational people who volunteer, sharing the joy of a case that ends well and knowing that your work helps to improve the lives of children in your state.
The work done in state organizations supports the most important work in the CASA/GAL network: that of the local programs and the thousands of individual volunteers willing to advocate for children in some of the most difficult cases facing our court systems.
The phone rings. You have been offered the position of director of the state CASA/GAL organization! You begin Monday.
Welcome to the CASA/GAL network. There are many wonderful resources available for state directors, including incredibly supportive peers around the country.
The first person to call is your National CASA regional program specialist. You can find out who that person is by going to casanet.org or by calling the National CASA Association office at (800)628-3233. Ask your regional program specialist if another state director might
be willing to serve as a mentor. Find out when the next state directors’ meeting will be held:
meetings are held twice a year, once in the fall and once at the annual conference. If there are topics of particular concern to you, suggest them for the state directors’ meeting agenda.
Your program specialist can tell you who is on the meeting planning committee.
National CASA maintains a state directors’ listserv that you will find to be a great source of information and support. Questions posted to the list are sent to all state directors as well as to National CASA staff. Subjects and topics addressed include asking for advice on handling specific situations or policy issues, requesting sample documents and discussions about National CASA initiatives. If your question would be best answered by National CASA staff, please direct it to your program specialist rather than the list. Archives from the last few years are available. Before posting a question, see if your question has already been asked and answered. Your regional program specialist can help you sign up for the listserv as well as review archives.
Note: Numerous resources are available at National CASA’s program website (casanet.org). CASAnet contains a section for states and also a section on program management. Get a sense of what areas are covered on the website as this will often be your best source for answers to questions asked by local program directors. The National CASA Association also maintains an external website (nationalcasa.org) that provides basic information for the general public. If you are new to the state organization, spend time on the state organization’s website, if one exists.
If you cannot locate these documents above, talk to your predecessor (if that person is available), the board chair (if a nonprofit) or to your supervisor. The National CASA regional program specialist can also help locate some documents (for example, National CASA grant reports from the previous grant cycle).
Individual contact will take time if there are a number of programs in the state. Be strategic about which programs are visited first. It may be helpful to complete a needs assessment of the state organization if one has not been done recently. More information on this topic is in the Evaluation, Data & Planning section of this guide.
With each of these people, ask them who else you should be meeting.
4 Getting Started Terms & Acronyms for the New Director If you have not worked in child welfare or with a CASA/GAL program previously, take some time to become familiar with the language commonly used. The most helpful and comprehensive resource will be the glossary of the Volunteer Training Curriculum. For more information on laws, see Chapter Two of the Volunteer Training Curriculum.
History of State CASA/GAL Organizations The National CASA Association was organized in 1982, with the office opening in 1984.
The first meeting of state organizations occurred in 1987. This is how it was reported in the
Delaware Family Court newsletter (August, 1987):
On July 23 and 24, 1987, the National CASA Association sponsored a two-day meeting in Washington, DC for directors of statewide CASA/GAL programs. Representatives from Florida, Connecticut, Arizona, Utah, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Delaware met with Linda Selsor, Executive Director, and Beth Waid the Assistant Director of National CASA. The group discussed such issues as the development of statewide CASA systems, program relationships with National CASA, program accreditation, interstate compact systems for CASA programs, program management and administration problems, and the role of CASA in influencing change.
All of the programs attending this meeting were court-based state-administered programs, where the state organization was established first and had the duty to develop local offices under the supervision of the state organization.
Note: As of 2003, the average state-administered program was 18 years old, while the average nonprofit state organization was ten years old. The National CASA Association Annual State Program Survey, 2002, p. 5.
By the next year, when the group met in Miami, there were approximately 15 representatives.
Nationally in 1988, 377 programs in 47 states had 13,000 volunteers serving 50,000 children.
During this period in many parts of the country, individual nonprofit CASA/GAL organizations were developing without the support or coordination of state organizations.
These programs formed informal networks to share ideas and support one another. These loosely organized state groups gathered for four primary reasons: to establish standards, to develop strong links with the court, to participate in joint training and for legislative advocacy. Many state organizations were developed by local program directors to help fill the common needs identified by local programs.
State Achieving our Mission 7 In 1989, the state directors met again at a critical juncture for child welfare in America. The National CASA Association newsletter, The Connection, reported (“State CASA Directors
Discuss Issues”, Fall 1989.):
Representatives from 26 state CASA organizations will be taking a look at issues affecting growth and development of the National CASA network when they meet for National CASA’s third annual State Director’s Conference, November 9-11 in South Lake Tahoe, CA.
The meeting, hosted and subsidized by the National CASA Association, will explore topics such as state-based advocacy, data collection, statewide standards, improving minority outreach, developing funding for statewide organizations and program performance evaluations.
State CASA Directors will also be invited to sit in on the November 11 meeting of the National CASA Board of Directors, which is being held this year in conjunction with the state conference.
According to National CASA Executive Director Beth Waid, “this will be an invaluable opportunity to establish a dialog between the Board, the National CASA staff and the State Directors to unify our efforts for children. Our national Policy Committee will be asking the Board to support a National Legislative Agenda for the first time.” The Association will ask the group to pass resolutions supporting the Young Americans Act (HR 1492), the National Council of Juvenile &Family Court Judges’ proposed amendments to P.L. 93-247, the law requiring a guardian ad litem for every child who comes into the system.