History of CASA

Judge David Soukup

How CASA was Started

 

In 1977 a Seattle juvenile court judge, David Soukup, was concerned over making drastic decisions with insufficient information about abused and neglected children’s lives.  He conceived the idea of citizen volunteers speaking up for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom. From the first program, a network of nearly 1,000 CASA programs that recruit, train and support volunteers in 49 states and the District of Columbia, has grown.

On April 22, 1985, President Ronald Reagan presented the National CASA Association with the President’s Volunteer Action Award for “outstanding volunteer contribution, demonstrating accomplishment through voluntary action.” In August of 1989, the American Bar Association officially endorsed the use of CASA volunteers to work with attorneys to speak for abused and neglected children in court.

In July of 1990, the U.S. Congress authorized the expansion of CASA with the passage of the “Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990” (P.L. 101-647), so that a “court-appointed special advocate shall be available to every victim of child abuse or neglect in the United States that needs such an advocate.” The U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect included utilization of CASA and GAL volunteers among critical first steps recommended to bring the “national emergency” of child abuse and neglect in America today under control.