Code Section Group

Welfare and Institutions Code - WIC

DIVISION 2. CHILDREN [100 - 1500]

  ( Division 2 enacted by Stats. 1937, Ch. 369. )


  ( Part 1 enacted by Stats. 1937, Ch. 369. )

CHAPTER 1. Court-Appointed Special Advocates [50 - 5911]
  ( Chapter 1 added by Stats. 1988, Ch. 723, Sec. 5. )


(a) The Judicial Council shall establish a planning and advisory group consisting of appropriate professional and program specialists to recommend on the development of program guidelines and funding procedures consistent with this chapter. At a minimum, the council shall adopt program guidelines consistent with the guidelines established by the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, and with California law, but the council may require additional or more stringent standards. State funding shall be contingent on a program adopting and adhering to the program guidelines adopted by the council.

(b) The program guidelines adopted by the council shall be adopted and incorporated into local rules of court by each participating superior court as a prerequisite to funding pursuant to this chapter.

(c) The council shall adopt program guidelines and criteria for funding that encourage multicounty CASA programs where appropriate, and shall not provide for funding more than one program per county.

(d) The council shall establish, in a timely fashion, a request-for-proposal process to establish, maintain, or expand local CASA programs and may require local matching funds or in-kind funds not to exceed the proposal request. The maximum state grant per county program per year shall not exceed seventy thousand dollars ($70,000) in counties in which the population is less than 700,000 and shall not exceed one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) in counties in which the population is 700,000 or more, according to the annual population report provided by the Department of Finance.

(Amended by Stats. 2020, Ch. 36, Sec. 45. (AB 3364) Effective January 1, 2021.)


As used in this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

(a) “Adult” means a person 18 years of age or older.

(b) “Child or minor” means a person under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court pursuant to Section 300, 601, or 602.

(c) “CASA” means a Court-Appointed Special Advocate. “CASA” also refers to a Court Designated Child Advocate in programs that have utilized that title. A CASA has the duties and responsibilities described in this chapter and shall be trained by and function under the auspices of a Court-Appointed Special Advocate program as set forth in this chapter.

(d) “Court” means the superior court, including the juvenile court.

(e) “Dependent” means a person described in Section 300.

(f) “Nonminor dependent” means a person as described in subdivision (v) of Section 11400.

(g) “Ward” means a person described in Section 601 or 602.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 71, Sec. 1. (AB 424) Effective January 1, 2016.)


(a) Each CASA program shall, if feasible, be staffed by a minimum of one paid administrator. The staff shall be directly accountable to the presiding juvenile court judge and the CASA program board of directors, as applicable.

(b) The program shall provide for volunteers to serve as CASAs. A CASA may be appointed to any dependent, nonminor dependent, or ward who is subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.

(c) Each CASA shall serve at the pleasure of the court having jurisdiction over the proceedings in which a CASA has been appointed and that appointment may continue after the child attains his or her age of majority, with the consent of the nonminor dependent. A CASA shall do all of the following:

(1) Provide independent, factual information to the court regarding the cases to which he or she is appointed.

(2) Represent the best interests of the child involved, and consider the best interests of the family, in the cases to which he or she is appointed.

(3) At the request of the judge, monitor cases to which he or she has been appointed to ensure that the court’s orders have been fulfilled.

(d) The Judicial Council, through its rules and regulations, shall require an initial and ongoing training program consistent with this chapter for all persons acting as a CASA, including, but not limited to, each of the following:

(1) Dynamics of child abuse and neglect.

(2) Court structure, including juvenile court laws.

(3) Social service systems.

(4) Child development.

(5) Cultural competency and sensitivity relating to, and best practices for, providing adequate care to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.

(6) Interviewing techniques.

(7) Report writing.

(8) Roles and responsibilities of a CASA.

(9) Rules of evidence and discovery procedures.

(10) Problems associated with verifying reports.

(e) The Judicial Council, through its CASA Advisory Committee, shall adopt guidelines for the screening of CASA volunteers, which shall include personal interviews, reference checks, checks for records of sex offenses and other criminal records, information from the Department of Motor Vehicles, and other information that the Judicial Council deems appropriate.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 71, Sec. 2. (AB 424) Effective January 1, 2016.)


(a) Persons acting as a CASA shall be individuals who have demonstrated an interest in children and their welfare. Each CASA shall participate in a training course conducted under the rules and regulations adopted by the Judicial Council and in ongoing training and supervision throughout his or her involvement in the program. Each CASA shall be evaluated before and after initial training to determine his or her fitness for these responsibilities. Ongoing training shall be provided at least monthly.

(b) Each CASA shall commit a minimum of one year of service to a child until a permanent placement is achieved for the child or until relieved by the court, whichever is first. At the end of each year of service, the CASA, with the approval of the court, may recommit for an additional year.

(c) A CASA shall have no associations that create a conflict of interest with his or her duties as a CASA.

(d) An adult otherwise qualified to act as a CASA shall not be discriminated against based upon marital status, socioeconomic factors, or because of any characteristic listed or defined in Section 11135 of the Government Code.

(e) Each CASA is an officer of the court, with the relevant rights and responsibilities that pertain to that role and shall act consistently with the local rules of court pertaining to CASAs.

(f) Each CASA shall be sworn in by a superior court judge or commissioner before beginning his or her duties.

(g) A judge may appoint a CASA when, in the opinion of the judge, a child requires services which can be provided by the CASA, consistent with the local rules of court.

(h) To accomplish the appointment of a CASA, the judge making the appointment shall sign an order, which may grant the CASA the authority to review specific relevant documents and interview parties involved in the case, as well as other persons having significant information relating to the child, to the same extent as any other officer of the court appointed to investigate proceedings on behalf of the court.

(i) Each CASA shall be considered court personnel for purposes of subdivision (a) of Section 827.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 71, Sec. 3. (AB 424) Effective January 1, 2016.)


(a) The court shall determine the extent of the CASA’s duties in each case. These duties may include an independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding a case to which he or she has been appointed, interviewing and observing the child and other appropriate individuals, and the reviewing of appropriate records and reports.

(b) The CASA shall report the results of the investigation to the court.

(c) The CASA shall follow the direction and orders of the court and shall provide information specifically requested by the court.

(Added by Stats. 1988, Ch. 723, Sec. 5.)


All otherwise confidential records and information acquired or reviewed by a CASA during the course of his or her duties shall remain confidential and shall be disclosed only pursuant to a court order.

(Added by Stats. 1988, Ch. 723, Sec. 5.)


The CASA shall be notified of hearings and other proceedings concerning the case to which he or she has been appointed.

(Added by Stats. 1988, Ch. 723, Sec. 5.)


(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), upon presentation of the order of his or her appointment by the CASA, and upon specific court order and consistent with the rules of evidence, any agency, hospital, school, organization, division or department of the state, physician and surgeon, nurse, other health care provider, psychologist, psychiatrist, police department, or mental health clinic shall permit the CASA to inspect and copy any records relating to the child involved in the case of appointment without the consent of the child or parents.

(b) Subdivision (a) does not apply to the records of or pertaining to a nonminor dependent. The CASA may have access to those records only with the explicit written and informed consent of the nonminor dependent.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 846, Sec. 10. (AB 1712) Effective January 1, 2013.)


The Judicial Council shall report to the Legislature on the implementation of the program, and shall include recommendations on the continued funding and expansion of the program, as appropriate.

(Added by Stats. 1988, Ch. 723, Sec. 5.)


(a) Except as provided in subdivisions (b) and (c), nothing in this chapter permits a person acting as a CASA to participate or appear in criminal proceedings or in proceedings to declare a person a ward of the juvenile court pursuant to Section 601 or 602.

(b) A person acting as a CASA may participate in determinations made pursuant to Section 241.1, and in all delinquency proceedings after adjudication of delinquency.

(c) This section does not apply to a person acting as a CASA when that person is acting solely as a support person to the child or who is in court on behalf of a child who is the victim of a crime.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 71, Sec. 4. (AB 424) Effective January 1, 2016.)


Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as limiting the right of an Indian tribe or Indian organization to establish or operate CASA programs independent of state funding or the discretion of the court to appoint CASAs from those programs in Indian child custody proceedings.

(Added by Stats. 2006, Ch. 838, Sec. 28. Effective January 1, 2007.)

WICWelfare and Institutions Code - WIC