What is CASA?
CASA is a national volunteer movement that began in 1977 when Judge David Soukup in Seattle decided he needed to know more about the children whose lives were in his hands. His solution was to ask community volunteers to act as a "voice in court" for abused and neglected children. These Court Appointed Special Advocates® (CASA) provided him with the detailed information he needed to safeguard the children's best interests and ensure that they were placed in safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible. The program was so successful that it was copied around the nation.
The first CASA program established in Texas was Dallas CASA in 1980. During that decade, 14 CASA programs were started in Texas. In 1989, Texas CASA was formed as a result of a merger between the Texas Task Force on Permanency Planning and the Texas CASA network that was made up of the existing CASA programs in the state.
Today, the CASA movement has evolved into one of the largest volunteer organizations in the country. In Texas, there are 69 local CASA programs with more than 6,600 volunteers serving nearly 21,000 foster children in 204 counties.
Texas CASA, Inc. advocates for abused and neglected children in the court system through the development, growth and support of local CASA programs in Texas. Texas CASA also advocates for foster children in the Texas Legislature.
CASA volunteers are people like you. They’re teachers, business people, retirees, stay-at-home moms, grandparents, college students; extraordinary people who want to make certain the voices of abused and neglected children are heard.
CASA volunteers get to know the child and speak to everyone involved in the child’s life, including their family members, teachers, doctors, lawyers, social workers, and others.
The information they gather and their recommendations help the court make informed decisions. CASA volunteers commit to a child until the case is closed and the child is in a safe, permanent home.
Judges truly value the observations and recommendations of CASA volunteers, knowing that they have the child’s best interests at heart.
- CASA volunteers help shorten the time a child spends in foster care.*
- Children with a CASA volunteer are less likely to re-enter the child welfare system once their case is closed.*
- CASA volunteers help children and their families receive the services they need.*
- CASA has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice as a model juvenile delinquency prevention program.
*Source: Study conducted by National CASA and U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs, 2006
While my sisters and brothers and I were at the emergency shelter, my CASA came to see us and answered all of our questions. She even found my mom and went to see her in jail. She told my mom that we missed her and were worried about her. Today my CASA is the only one on my case who has ever met my mom. My CASA also understood that it was important that my brothers and sisters stayed together because we are family. She encouraged us to care about each other even when we got mad and fought with each other. My CASA knew how important it was for me to know my sisters and brother were doing ok and during the time we were separated she helped us visit one another and told me how they were doing. Then she helped us move to two new foster homes that were only a block away from each other. Last year my CASA found my oldest brother. My CASA called him and now we can call one another. She got pictures of him for me too. Current CASA child
Every time my CASA volunteer told me that she was coming to visit, she never backed down from her word. At first I thought that she never got tired or sick but then realized that she was dedicated to her CASA kids. Nothing would stop her from making her visits. My CASA worker helped me get my G.E.D., my driver’s license, taught me parenting skills, and helped me find a job and a place to live. She really showed me how much she cared and loved not only me but my daughter as well. CASA has been a constant thing in my life. I don’t know where I would be right now without CASA. God bless you and keep up the good work. Former CASA youth