History of CASA
History of Court Appointed Special Advocates
In 1976, Superior Court Judge David Soukup of Seattle, WA, observed 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 the best interest 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 over a million children. He obtained funding to recruit and train community volunteers to step into courtrooms on behalf of the children: 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. Today, more than 85,000 CASA volunteers make a difference for foster youth nationwide.
Our Local Story
CASA of Fresno County was established in late 1996 with only one full-time staff member and a mere handful of volunteers. In 2006, CASA was granted the opportunity to serve the foster youth of Madera County as well.
Since our inception in 1996, CASA of Fresno and Madera Counties has served foster youth in our region with Judge Soukup’s original goal in mind: to be a voice for our community’s most at-risk children. This has been tirelessly executed with the help of dedicated men and women, from advocates to social workers, attorneys, foster parents, therapists, doctors, teachers, and the myriad of other individuals responsible for the care of our foster youth.
Today, CASA of Fresno and Madera Counties employs a full-time staff and is supporting and equipping more than 175 volunteer advocates as they annually serve 225 of the 2,500 abused and neglected children in foster care in Fresno and Madera Counties.