In Hamilton County, Indiana, when children are involved in court cases, the Judge may choose someone to look out for the child’s welfare. These people are called Guardian Ad Litem Advocates ("GAL volunteer" or "GALs" for short) or Court Appointed Special Advocates ("CASAs"). Hamilton County Courts appoint a GAL/CASA in a broad variety of cases including guardianship, paternity, divorce, and juvenile delinquency cases. Additionally, a GAL/CASA is appointed in cases involving children in need of services -- cases initiated by the Hamilton County Division of Family and Children when a child is alleged to be neglected or abused.
The GAL/CASA volunteers are the eyes and ears of the Court, going places where Judges cannot go. These volunteers act for the child in the courtroom, deal with social services, and help in cases of family crisis. Their goal is to protect the child’s safety and feelings, and make sure the child lives in a good home where he or she will not be abused.
Funding for the Hamilton County GAL/CASA Program is primarily by Hamilton County, with additional financial support from grants. In some cases, parties may be required to reimburse the GAL Program for services rendered. In all cases, the Court can require the parties to pay a user fee.