Piedmont CASA was founded in 1995.
Piedmont CASA has a 26-year history of providing well-trained and effective court advocates for abused and neglected children. Since 1995, the program has trained more than 760 men and women in our community who have advocated for over 2,200 children. The text of the Virginia CASA statute leaves it to the courts’ discretion whether or not to refer children to the CASA program, but in practice local judges find the program so valuable that they request a Piedmont CASA Volunteer for every new child who enters their court with an underlying allegation of abuse and neglect. During the 2020 fiscal year, 112 Piedmont CASA Volunteers advocated for 243 children and youth.
Having Court Appointed Special Advocates was a judges idea.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a national volunteer movement that was founded in 1976 by a juvenile court judge in Seattle, Washington. At that time, children in foster care didn’t receive the same representation in court as parents did. Judge David W. Soukup decided he couldn’t endure any more sleepless nights worrying about the lifelong impact his decisions had on abused and neglected children. According to Judge Soukup, in an LA Times interview, “I was consumed by the fact that I didn’t have enough information about each child, and I just didn’t know if I had done the very best job I could.”
Judge Soukup thought well-trained volunteers could ensure children’s voices were heard and provide judges with the necessary insight to make the best possible decisions. Today, close to 1,000 CASA programs serve children in 49 of our 50 states.
Judge Soukup's idea started a movement.
- 1977: Judge Soukup starts the first CASA/GAL program in Seattle (King County), Washington.
- 1977: A National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges committee endorses the program as a model for safeguarding a child’s rights to a safe and permanent family.
- 1978: Judge John F. Mendoza of Nevada suggests the term “court-appointed special advocate” to designate the lay court-appointed volunteers.
- 1982: The first Annual CASA Conference is held in Nevada, and participants vote to establish the National CASA Association.
- 1982: The number of CASA/GAL programs reaches 88.
- 1983: Twenty-nine states have CASA/GAL programs.
- 1984: The National CASA Association forms in Seattle.
- 1984: National CASA enters into its first cooperative agreement with the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which remains our largest funder to date.
- 1985: President Ronald Reagan presents National CASA with the President’s Volunteer Action Award.
- 1985: 10,000 children served annually through 159 programs
- 1987: 40,000 children served by 12,000 volunteers in 271 local programs and 44 states
- 1988: Tribal courts first begin CASA programs through grants to five tribes.
- 1989: National CASA becomes Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation’s national charity.
- 1990: 72,000 children served by 17,000 volunteers in 412 program offices
- 1991: The CASA program is first authorized in the Victims of Child Abuse Act.
- 1995: 129,000 children served by 38,000 volunteers in 642 program offices
- 1996: Congress amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to allow the required GAL to be an attorney or CASA volunteer.
- 1997: The National Bar Association endorses CASA volunteer advocacy.
- 2000: 174,000 children served by 47,000 volunteers in 900 program offices
- 2003: National CASA’s partnership with Jewelers for Children, our largest private funder, begins.
- 2007: CASA network reaches 2 million children served since inception.
- 2015: National CASA begins a partnership with Akerman LLP, a top law firm.
- 2016: National CASA Association opens an office in Washington, D.C.