The CASA Organization
In 1977, a Seattle Washington, Superior Court Judge named David Soukup experienced a disturbing and reoccurring problem in his courtroom. He often felt that pertinent information in cases regarding the lives of children seemed inaccessible and unavailable, ultimately forcing him to make lasting decisions without sufficient knowledge. As Judge Soukup explained, “In criminal and civil cases, even though there were always many different points of view, you walk out of the courthouse at the end of the day and you can say, ‘I’ve done my best; I can live with this decision.’ But when you’re involved with a child case and you’re trying to decide what to do to facilitate that child’s growth into a mature and happy adult, you don’t feel like you have sufficient information to allow you to make the right decision. You wonder, “do I really know everything I should? Have I really been told all of the different things? Is this really right?’“ He realized the value of information in proper decision making. With that in mind, he conceived the idea of appointing community volunteers to speak up for the best interests of these children in court. So Judge Soukup made a request for volunteers to help in the court process: 50 citizens responded, and that was the start of the CASA movement, an idea that would change America’s judicial procedure and the lives of over a million children.
As CASA projects developed throughout the country, it was clear that a national association would be beneficial to direct and support CASA’s emerging presence. So in 1982, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (NCASAA) was established in Seattle, Washington. NCASAA diligently began the work of spreading CASA’s mission of child advocacy so each and every child victim would have a powerful voice in court.
Today, there are more than 76,000 advocates serving in nearly 1,000 state and local program offices nationwide, including Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. CASA programs across the country are known by several different names, including Guardian ad Litem, Child Advocates, and Voices for Children. Since the inception of CASA advocacy, volunteers have helped child victims of abuse and neglect find safe, permanent homes in which they can thrive.
The CASA program is a proven, reliable and economic model of support that has meant the difference between success and failure in thousands of children. Many more children would thrive if they had the intensive intervention of a CASA volunteer.
History of Newport News CASA
During the 1980’s, the 7th District Juvenile Court realized child victims of abuse and neglect needed to have sufficient representation along with compassionate advocacy. To meet this necessity, Newport News determined that at CASA (court appointed special advocates) would be the best approach to address this growing need. In 1985, Newport News established the first CASA Program in the Commonwealth of Virginia which operated under the Newport News Court Services UNIT until May 2002 when Newport News CASA incorporated as a 501 c (3) and established a Board of Directors.
Since the time of inception, Newport News CASA has been recruiting, training, and supervising volunteers who advocate for children in the 7th Judicial District. CASA’s goal is to ensure safety and permanency for children whose lives are in turmoil. After 31 years, over 6,000 children’s lives have been positively impacted by effective and compassionate advocacy.
Newport News CASA is a member program of the National CASA Association.