Q: Can a CASA volunteer share confidential case information with any federal officials, including federal immigration officials?
A: No, not without a valid court order specific to CASA. The state of the law has been, and remains that the juvenile case file and information related to the juvenile – including name, and immigration status – are confidential. California law has a specific list of those entitled to inspect the juvenile case file and federal officials are not on it. So, access to this information by federal officials would require a court order made after filing a petition. Additionally, even if someone was on the list, or had a petition granted, California law requires a specific order authorizing the CASA to disclose the information to anyone other than the court, the parties and their attorneys, and CASA staff. 3
Q: What about social workers, attorneys, and others – can they give information related to the juvenile to federal immigration officials?
A: Again, no, not without a valid court order made pursuant to a petition. In fact, the California Legislature enacted AB 899 (2015) clarifying that existing law does not allow disclosure of juvenile information, including the juvenile case file, without a valid court order. 4
Q: Should a CASA volunteer ensure that others in the case know the immigration needs of the youth?
A: It depends, so you should consult with your case supervisor. CASA volunteers represent the best interests of the youth, so if it is not in the youth’s best interests then it may be better to not disclose certain facts at a particular time. Of course, CASA volunteers are officers of the court, and if the judge asks you pointedly about something, including immigration issues, you must answer and answer honestly. 5
3 See Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 827, 831; Welf. & Inst. Code § 105, and California Rule of Court 5.655(m)(1).
4 See Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 827, 831.
5 See Welf. & Inst. Code § 103.