What is a CAJA's role?
Fact-finder, Investigator - The CAJA conducts an independent investigation, including research and examination of the issues and elements of the case. The CAJA talks with the parents, relatives, child, school officials, social workers, therapists and others with information about the child's circumstances, reviews all relevant records, and researches available community resources that have information about the child.
Advocate - The CAJA notifies the court of all information relevant to the child's best interests and makes specific recommendations to the court that would serve the child's well-being. The CAJA attends all court hearings to represent and protect the best interest of the child.
Facilitator - The CAJA facilitates agreement between the parties and attorneys and works for resolution of the problems presented to the court. The CAJA promotes and makes recommendations regarding essential services to the child and family.
Monitor and Reporter - The CAJA monitors the court's orders to assure compliance, reports back to the court when there is non-compliance, and assesses and reports to the court regarding the child's adjustment to placement.
How does a CAJA differ from a social service case worker?
The CAJA program's main purpose is securing safety and permanence for the children. The independent CAJA volunteer has but one goal: to determine what decisions would be in the child's best interests, ensuring that the fact-based report includes recommendations that reflect those actions or decisions for the judge to consider. Social workers are employed by the state. They often have 18 to 30 cases at a time and are frequently unable to conduct a comprehensive investigation of each. The CAJA volunteer has more time and only one or two cases. After thoroughly examining a child's case, the CAJA can make a recommendation to the court independent of state agency restrictions.