The History of CASA:
Juvenile court Judge David Soukup (King County, Seattle, Washington) was dissatisfied with the same case plans and recommendations for child after child; he believed more individualized attention would produce better outcomes. Judge Soukup solicited ideas for system improvement from court staff. Out of these ideas evolved the idea for community volunteers to act as child advocates. The volunteer Gaurdian Ad Litem Program began in King County in 1977.
The guardian ad litem did not have to be an attorney. The program recruited volunteers from the community and provided training and support. Similar programs were developed in other states as judges spread the word of the concept. The National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association was created in 1982 to support volunteer child advocate programs and increase the number of volunteer child advocates nationwide. Programs go by many names: CASA, GAL, ProKids, Voices for Children and Child Advocates. All have the same common goal to train volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in the court system. Last year, nearly 60,000 CASA volunteers served more than 240,000 abused and neglected children through 954 program offices. CASA volunteers have helped more than two million abused children since the first program was established in 1977.
History of Boone County CASA
Boone County CASA began in 1991, under the umbrella of Human Services, which funded and administered the program for two years. When the affiliation with Human Services ended in June 1993, four active CASA volunteers formed a board, incorporated and began the search for funding to keep the program alive. There were 24 volunteers and no paid staff and the program had 35 cases. Today there are 42 CASA volunteers, 2 paid staff members. CASA serves 256 children each year.