About Lucas County CASA

Mission

The mission of the Lucas County Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Program is to serve the best interests of abused and neglected children in the juvenile court system. CASA volunteers provide quality advocacy for children so that every child can have a safe, permanent home and the opportunity to thrive.


Overview

In 1980, the Lucas County Juvenile Court created a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteer program, the first of its kind in Ohio and one of only a handful of programs in existence across the United States. The CASA program was born from the recognition that abused and neglected children need focused advocacy in juvenile court proceedings from the onset of the case until a safe and permanent resolution is reached.

Under Ohio law (ORC 2151), a qualified guardian ad litem must be appointed to serve every abused and neglected child brought into the protection of the juvenile court. That guardian ad litem can be a CASA volunteer advocate or a paid attorney. CASA advocates are citizen volunteers trained by the Juvenile Court to serve as guardian ad litem for abused and neglected children, focusing solely on the best interests of the children they serve. Each year, the Lucas County CASA program trains diverse members of the greater Toledo community, including attorneys, to fulfill the requirements of the role of guardian ad litem. CASA volunteers come from all walks of life and from diverse backgrounds and rich heritages.

CASA work can be demanding and arduous. It requires that CASA volunteers leave the comfort of their ordered lives and willingly enter a world of broken dreams, unspeakable acts, splintered lives, and generalized chaos. Once appointed, a CASA volunteer conducts an independent investigation of the physical, social, and emotional background of a child and brings that information to the court. The CASA volunteer additionally makes recommendations in the best interests of the child regarding the disposition of the case and monitors the child’s safety and well-being for the length of the case so that every child can have a safe, permanent home and the opportunity to thrive.

Underlying all of CASA work is a commitment to improving the lives of children, one child at a time. The key to the success of CASA advocacy is the absolute commitment of all CASA volunteers to conduct their duties with a willingness to learn, with a freedom from personal bias, with an open mind towards life experiences different from their own, and most importantly, with the best interests of the child always first and foremost. As so many CASA volunteers have put it best – it is the hardest, most professional volunteer job they have ever loved!


In 2018, the Lucas County CASA/GAL department was able to provide CASA volunteer advocates to 720 child victims of abuse or neglect. Since 1980, local CASA volunteers have served as guardians ad litem to over 12,000 children.

Additional information available on CASA Fact Sheet.