"The child, for the full and harmonious development of his or her personality, should grow up in a family environment, in an atmosphere of happiness, love, and understanding….”
The Role of the CASA/GAL
Often, the court will appoint a special advocate to represent the best interests and rights of the foster child. The court-appointed special advocate (CASA) or guardian ad litem (GAL) is specially trained and has legal standing. Their job is to talk to all parties, especially the foster child, and make recommendations to the court.
The role of the CASA or GAL becomes more important when the foster parent and the welfare department have conflicting views or interests. The welfare department may feel strongly about following certain policies, saving the state money, and/or supporting the opposing adoption petition of another party. The foster parents may have a different opinion about what they perceive to be the child’s best interests. They may want to adopt the child against the continuing wishes of the birth parents.
When disagreements occur, the court may welcome a third opinion, especially when the CASA or GAL has obtained firsthand information through home visits. The foster parents and welfare departments may both woo the CASA/GAL for support.