Thank you to Dawn Daugherty, executive director of Mahoning County Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem. 
The Mahoning County CASA/GAL Program was founded in 1988 to provide a voice in court for the abused and neglected children in Mahoning County. Housed in the "Martin P. Joyce Juvenile Justice Center", the program recruits, screens, trains and monitors volunteers who become the voice for children identified by the court as abused and neglected and advocates for their need for safe permanent placement.
Those interested in being a CASA volunteer must:
  • be at least 21 years of age.
  • complete a written application with three references.
  • submit to a screening process including a background check with finger printing.
  • complete 34 hours of pre-service training. In addition to this, CASA/GAL volunteers are required to complete at least 12 hours of continuing education a year.
  • give a minimum 1 year commitment - CASA/GAL volunteers must be committed. When a case is assigned, CASA/GAL volunteers are expected to stay with the case until it is resolved to ensure there is at least one consistent person there to advocate for the child's best interests. This may take a year or even longer. The time spent on each case may vary, but usually averages out to about 10-15 hours per month.
  • be objective. As a CASA/GAL volunteer, you work to represent the best interests of the child and that is not always what the child wants.
  • work as a fact finder, an interviewer, and an investigator. Volunteers gather pertinent information relative to the child's case and report on these findings in court. Their goal is to gather as much information as possible to help the court make the best decision regarding the child's future. They also monitor the case to ensure the child's needs are being met.
  • possess good communication skills. Volunteers talk to a wide variety of people and are asked to present written requests to the court and speak in the courtroom on behalf of the child's best interests.
For more information on this program, please visit, or email at