In 1977, a Seattle Superior Court Judge named David Soukup was concerned about trying to make decisions on behalf of abused and neglected children without enough information. He conceived the idea of appointing community volunteers to speak up in court to assist the judge in determining what course of action was in the best interest of the child. He made a request for volunteers; 50 citizens responded, and that was the start of the CASA movement. News of the success of Judge Soukop’s experiment spread like wildfire and CASA programs sprang up all over the United States.
Currently, there are over 1,000 CASA programs throughout the United States and CASA volunteers have helped more than 2 million children find safe, permanent homes in which they can thrive. 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 well over 1,000,000 children find safe and permanent homes.
For additional information, please refer to the National CASA website.
The Pennsylvania Court Appointed Special Advocates Association (PA CASA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 and recognized by the National CASA Association (NCASA) as a member in good standing. Today in Pennsylvania there are CASA program offices in 18 locations serving 24 county court jurisdictions.
The PA CASA organization plays a major role in acting as a liaison between the National CASA and the development of new programs throughout the state of Pennsylvania. The national organization sets the credentials needed for all the CASA programs throughout the United States and PA CASA ensures that each local program is following the guidelines and meets all the requirements.
For additional information, please refer to the PA CASA website.
Dauphin County CASA
In 2016, Richard A. Lewis, President Judge of the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas, wrote a letter of support for the formation of a local CASA program in Dauphin County. Judge John Cherry, presiding over Dependency Court, gave his blessings as well. The following year, a statement of intent to begin the Dauphin County CASA program was submitted by the Steering Committee Chair, to the National CASA organization which approved development of the program. In December 2018, a Memorandum of Understanding was reached with the County, Children & Youth Services, Dauphin County CASA and the Court as to how the program will operate.
Dauphin County CASA Board of Directors were chosen, operation budgets created, and, on March 13, 2019, the organization was granted a tax exempt non-profit, public charity under 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All donations are tax deductible.
With the invaluable assistance of PA CASA, Dauphin County CASA has moved through Phase 1 of development and on to Phase 2 as we raise funds to hire our Executive Director who will train our CASA volunteers. PA CASA will provide the training to the new volunteers and we will soon be making a difference in the lives of many, many children.