Lackawanna County CASA

Court Appointed Special Advocates
FOR CHILDREN

History of CASA

In 1976, Superior Court Judge David Soukup of Seattle, WA, saw a recurring problem in his courtroom. In criminal and civil cases, even though there were always many different points of view, you walked out of the courthouse at the end of the day and you said, "I've done my best, I can live with this decision," he explains.

"But when you're involved with a child 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 can't walk away and leave them at the courthouse at 4 o'clock. You wonder, `Do I really know everything I should? Have I really been told all of the different things? Is this really right?'"

To ensure he was getting all the facts and the long-term welfare of each child was being represented, the Seattle judge came up with an idea that would change America's judicial procedure and the lives of thousands of children. He obtained funding to recruit and train community volunteers to step into courtrooms on behalf of the children: the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers.

This unique concept was implemented in Seattle as a pilot program in January 1977. During that first year, the program provided 110 trained CASA volunteers for 498 children in 376 dependency cases.

By 1982 it was clear that a national association was needed to direct CASA's emerging national presence. The National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association was formed that year.

Today, there are more than 59,000 advocates serving in 954 state and local program offices nationwide. 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 more than 2 million children find safe, permanent homes in which they can thrive.

In 2008, at the request of the President Judge, Chester Harhut, the Advocacy Alliance facilitated the development of the Lackawanna County CASA Program. Our CASA is a member of National CASA and follows the standards recommended for program development and implementation.

Lackawanna County CASA Mission Statement

Advocate for abused and/or neglected children; give them hope, support and encouragement; enhance their resiliency; and ensure that their voices are heard as the juvenile court system seeks safe, permanent, and nurturing homes.

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