The first Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program started in 1977, by a Judge named David Soukup in Seattle, Washington. He realized that he was making far-reaching decisions about the lives of children without hearing from the unique perspective of the child. He began looking for an alternative to relying solely on the lawyers for the child, who were not only overworked but also not especially trained for dealing with children, and the overburdened social workers assigned to their cases that have too many cases to handle. Judge Soukup decided to train volunteers from the community to independently investigate the cases and make recommendations about what was in the best interest of the child.
“As a judge, I had to make tough decisions. I had to decide whether to take a child from the only home he’s ever known or leave him somewhere he might possibly be abused. I needed someone who could tell me what was best for that child– from the child’s viewpoint. That’s what CASA does.”
CASA Founder Honorable David Soukup
News of the success of Judge Soukup’s experiment spread like wildfire CASA became a national organization in 1982. Currently there are over 1,000 local CASA programs over 70,000 CASA volunteers throughout the United States.