This document describes the development process of a Tribal Court CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) program.
This endeavor requires a great deal of research, planning, organizing, and hard work. This manual is based on the collective experience of Tribal and non-Tribal Court CASA organizations throughout the Nation. Most States have a statewide CASA association that can provide guidance and support, potential funding sources, and program connections. CASA volunteers are lay people that are assigned by a judge to represent the best interests of children whose cases are before the court. CASA/GAL (Guardian Ad Litem) volunteers gather relevant information about the child and the family. The Tribal Court CASA Program is designed to assist in the development and enhancement of Tribal Court programs that provide volunteer CASAs for Native American children that have been abused or neglected. The goal is to increase the number of Indian children that are receiving culturally sensitive representation through Indigenous CASA programs in Tribal Court proceedings. The initial planning steps for a CASA program include becoming educated about the problems; assessing the community’s response to child abuse; determining if the program will succeed; obtaining judicial support; and forming a steering/planning committee. The steps to creating the organization are to establish a mission statement and to establish a plan that details all the tasks required to implement a program. The organizational structure of the program should be established under the Tribe, under another organization, or as an independent organization. Establishing a Board of Directors entails recruiting and selecting members and assigning responsibilities. An important step in planning a program is establishing a relationship with the Tribal Court. The steps in funding a program include developing a budget, an approach to fundraising, finding possible funding sources, and grantwriting. Recruiting volunteers and volunteer training and management are important aspects of the program. Managing the program entails financial management, risk management, and program operations.