How We Got Started
In 1977, the idea to train volunteers to speak up in the courtroom on behalf of the child’s best interest came from Judge Soukup, a Juvenile Court Judge, who had insufficient information to make a life-changing decision for a 3-year girl who had suffered from abuse. As the program model continued to grow and develop in other states, the National CASA Association was formed in Seattle in 1984, and was endorsed as a model for safeguarding a child’s rights to a safe and permanent family by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
The CASA Structure
- CASA for Kids, Washington, established in 2002 as a 501c3 nonprofit organization will celebrate 20 years of advocacy in 2022. Following the death of a young abused and neglected child in 2002, a feasibility study was conducted by a group of concerned citizens, child welfare agencies, and juvenile court judge, the Honorable Katherine B. Emery to ensure that the voice of the child is heard in the courtroom. Judge Emery recognized a need for an “objective fact-finder for the court” who would focus on the needs and wishes of the child. That fact finder would make recommendations as to the best interests of the child, thus helping the court make more informed decisions.
- PA CASA is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 to grow, strengthen, and unite local CASA programs. The statewide organization develops new programs, advocates for local programs, provides training, and supports the network of local CASA programs and volunteers Local CASA programs are organized for a specific juvenile court jurisdiction. There are 22 local programs serving 28 counties.
- National CASA/GAL together with state and local member programs, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every child who has experienced abuse or neglect can be safe, have a permanent home, and the opportunity to thrive. When you sign up to volunteer as a CASA or GAL advocate, you’re signing up with one of 948 state organizations and local programs in 49 states and the District of Columbia.