CASA and GAL Volunteer and Program Staff Academy

Period of Performance: 03/01/2009 - 05/15/2010


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Independent Living Resources, Inc.
Durham, NC 27705
Principal Investigator


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The purpose of this project is to develop, produce, and evaluate nine modules of a ten-module multimedia-training program for Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteers and program staffs. The program, called CASA/GAL Academy, will be delivered both on the Web and DVD, providing CASA/GAL volunteers and staffs with two home-based technologies for receiving high quality and comprehensive continuing education courses. Volunteers and staffs can register for courses through their CASA/GAL programs or individually and complete them to meet training requirements. In Phase I, we developed the content and measures for one of ten modules on dealing with adolescents in relation to information needed by family or juvenile court judges to make informed disposition decisions. We fully developed the Representing Adolescents in Court module testing prototypes of both DVD and Website versions. The program is designed to give volunteers information about youths in transition to adulthood in simple and practical terms. The program uses an interactive multimedia format utilizing case studies that are drawn from situations involving a family or juvenile court involved youth and a Guardian ad Litem. The Phase II evaluation study will further assess CASA/GAL volunteers and program staffs through their evaluation of the nine additional modules and development of enhanced knowledge and skills for working with adolescents. Project Narrative This project could have a significant impact on the well-being of adolescents'who are involved with the child welfare and court systems by assisting court volunteers to more clearly determine the needs of youth who are at risk of placement or continued neglect and abuse. The project would provide information on adolescents and their developmental status and needs. This information would lead to higher quality court reports and more appropriate developmentally related recommendations. These reports are crucial in informing courts (judges) and assisting them in handing down appropriate and necessary dispositional orders.