What is CASA?

CASA, an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocate, believes every child who has been abused or neglected deserves to have a dedicated advocate speaking up for their best interest in court, at school and in our community.

The first ever CASA program was created in 1977 by David W. Soukup, King County Superior Court Judge in Seattle, Washington. He created the program because he often felt as if he was not getting all the facts in cases involving abuse and neglect and therefore felt unable to make well-informed decisions about the futures of the children in the cases he heard. Even though guardian ad litems (attorneys that legally represent the children in these cases) were appointed, they lacked the time and specialized training to conduct an in-depth investigation required for abuse and neglect cases. Social workers had too little time to devote to each child. In court, there were attorneys to represent the interests of the parents and the state. Yet the child, whose future hinged on the outcome, was without a voice. The volunteers that stepped forward to become these children’s voices proved to be effective advocates.

To accomplish this, CASA educates and empowers diverse community volunteers who ensure each child’s needs remain a priority in an over-burdened child welfare system. When the state steps in to protect a child’s safety because the people responsible for protecting them have not, a judge appoints a trained CASA advocate to make independent and informed recommendations to help the judge decide what is in the child’s best interest. That is why we say, I am for the child. 

For children who have been abused or neglected, CASA means having a home instead of feeling lost, and being a priority instead of feeling invisible.

According to National CASA/GAL, children with CASA advocates are

  • more likely to end up with their family,
  • more likely to receive mental health therapy and health care,
  • perform better in school, and
  • are less likely to be bounced from one place to another or get stuck in long-term foster care.