History of CASA
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 independently investigate the cases, make recommendations, and speak up in court about what 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 Soukup’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 and CASA volunteers serve children in foster care throughout most of New Jersey. There are 16 independent CASA programs serving each of the NJ court vicinages.
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court. Children helped by CASA volunteers are those who have been removed from their home because of abuse or neglect.
CASA volunteers provide judges statewide with carefully researched background information for each assigned child to help the court make a sound decision about the child’s future. Each case is as unique as the child involved, and best interest recommendations are tailored for that child's needs. The CASA volunteer recommends if it is in the child’s best interest to remain in foster care, be returned to his or her parent/guardian, or be freed for adoption. The CASA volunteer stays with the case until it is permanently resolved, giving the child at least one stable adult presence throughout their time in foster care.