Representation of Children in Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings - Kentucky

Date: June 2021

Making The Appointment

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.100

If the court determines, as a result of a temporary removal hearing, that further proceedings are required, the court shall advise the child and his or her parent or other person exercising custodial control or supervision of his or her right to appointment of separate counsel.

The court shall appoint counsel for the child to be paid for by the Finance and Administration Cabinet. The clerk of the court shall arrange for service on all parties, including the local representative of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, of the order appointing counsel.

The court may, in the interest of justice, appoint a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) volunteer to represent the best interests of the child. The clerk of the court shall arrange for service on all parties, including the local representative of the Cabinet of Health and Family Services, of the order appointing the CASA volunteer.

The Use of Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs)

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.505

Local CASA programs shall comply with the National CASA Association and Kentucky CASA Association Standards for Programs. Local programs shall ensure that CASA volunteers are adequately supervised by providing at least one supervisory staff person for every 30 CASA volunteers appointed by the court. Program requirements include the following:

  • CASA volunteers shall, as far as practicable, represent the socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic composition of the area served.
  • CASA volunteers may be removed by the court for nonparticipation or other cause.
  • All written CASA reports shall become part of the record of the child maintained by the Cabinet of Health and Family Services.
  • Employees of the cabinet shall not become volunteers or employees of the CASA program.
  • Each CASA volunteer shall take an oath, administered by a member of the Court of Justice, to keep confidential all information related to the appointed case except in conferring with or reports to the court, parties to the case, the cabinet, the Citizen Foster Care Review Board, others designated by the court, and as provided by law.
  • CASA volunteers shall be appointed by the presiding judge to represent the best interests of the child, subject to judicial discretion, and only after confirmation from the director of the local CASA program that the CASA volunteer has been properly screened and trained.


Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 620.100; 620.515

Counsel for the child shall document participation in training on the role of counsel that includes training in early childhood, child, and adolescent development.

A CASA volunteer shall meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Be at least age 21
  • Be of good moral character
  • Complete a written application providing the names of at least three references
  • Submit to a personal interview with program staff
  • Submit to a criminal record check
  • Submit to a check of the child abuse and adult protection registry maintained by the Cabinet of Health and Family Services

If found acceptable, the applicant shall receive a minimum of 30 hours of initial training and take an oath of confidentiality administered by a family court judge or a district judge.

Specific Duties

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.525

The CASA volunteer shall do the following:

  • Attend all court hearings
  • Submit a written report and recommendation to the judge for consideration in determining the best interests of the child at the dispositional hearing, dispositional review hearings, and other hearings, as requested by the court, and at least one report every 6 months for as long as the case is assigned to the CASA volunteer
  • Monitor the case by visiting the child as often as necessary to observe whether the child's essential needs are being met and whether court orders are actually being carried out
  • Participate in any treatment-planning conferences and reviews involving the child to assess whether reasonable efforts are being made to provide services to the child and family and to determine the appropriateness and progress of the child's permanent plan
  • Advocate a prompt, thorough review of the case if the child's circumstances warrant the attention of the court
  • Interview parties involved in the case, including interviewing and observing the child
  • Maintain complete written records about the case
  • Report any incidents of child or adult abuse or neglect to the appropriate authorities and to the program director
  • Remain actively involved in the case until dismissed from the case by the program director or judge with competent jurisdiction, or when an adoption proceeding is finalized
  • Return all case-related materials, including, but not limited to, written notes, court reports, and agency documents, to the program director upon the request of the program director
  • Work with the cabinet representatives to advocate the best interests of the child

How the Representative Is Compensated

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 620.100

Counsel for the child shall be paid for by the Finance and Administration Cabinet. The fee to be fixed by the court shall not exceed $500. However, if the action has final disposition in the district court, the fee shall not exceed $250.