Idaho’s Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Programs serve children and youth across the state in child protection cases. These Programs support the state’s guardians ad litem (GALs) who are appointed by the courts to represent children and youth and their best interests in child protection cases. The Idaho Supreme Court commissioned the School of Public Service (SPS) at Boise State University to perform an external and impartial evaluation of Idaho’s Guardian Ad Litem Program, focusing on a number of research questions aiming to assess recruitment and retention of GALs, perceptions of GALs and CASA programs, and alignment with relevant national CASA standards, Idaho statutes, and Idaho Juvenile Rules.
- Idaho CASA Programs are making concerted efforts to align with national best practices for child advocacy and with key provisions of Idaho Code §§ 16-1632-33 as well as Idaho Juvenile Rule 35
- Idaho’s seven CASA Programs effectively train GALs on a variety of statutorily-mandated topics.
- Magistrate judges, CASA Program directors, and GALs all indicate overwhelmingly that GALs adequately advocate for the best interests of the child.
- Over the study period (2016-2020) 93% of children and youth in child protection cases had a GAL assigned to their case.
- Consistent challenges were identified by both GAL staff and volunteers and Executive Directors across the state. These challenges have also been noted in previous reports on child welfare in Idaho and include the need for more GALs and an improved working relationship with other key stakeholders in child protection matters.
- Many CASA Programs have plans for recruiting and retention, but need additional support in order to have enough GALs to serve children/youth in child protection cases.
Fry, Vanessa; Lee, Jacqueline; Kim, Cheong; and Matthews, D'Andre, "Idaho Guardian Ad Litem: 2022 Program Evaluation" (2022). Idaho Policy Institute Reports. 59.