INTRODUCED BY   Assembly Member Beth Gaines
   (Coauthor: Assembly Member Bigelow)
   (Coauthor: Senator Gaines)

                        FEBRUARY 19, 2015

   An act to amend Sections 101, 102, 103, and 109 of the Welfare and
Institutions Code, relating to juveniles.


   AB 424, Beth Gaines. Court appointed child advocates: wards.
   Existing law requires the Judicial Council to establish a
Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program, under which
volunteers serve as court appointed child advocates to provide
designated services and support to dependent children and nonminor
dependents in juvenile dependency proceedings. Existing law provides
that a minor, under certain circumstances, is subject to the
jurisdiction of the juvenile court. If the minor has violated a law
or ordinance, existing law authorizes the juvenile court to adjudge
the minor to be a ward of the court.
   This bill would authorize the appointment of a CASA in a juvenile
delinquency proceeding, and would provide that a CASA shall be
considered court personnel for purposes of inspecting the case file
of a dependent child or ward of the juvenile court.


  SECTION 1.  Section 101 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is
amended to read:
   101.  As used in this chapter, the following definitions shall
   (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
   (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.
  SEC. 2.  Section 102 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is
amended to read:
   102.  (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
   (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.
  SEC. 3.  Section 103 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is
amended to read:
   103.  (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.
  SEC. 4.  Section 109 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is
amended to read:
   109.  (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.