The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program was initiated in Seattle, Washington in 1977 by the Honorable David Soukup. Judge Soukup realized that he did not have enough information to make an informed decision about the future of neglected and abused children coming before him.
In Judge Soukup's words, "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?"
In his effort to become more informed in his decisions about the future of these children, Judge Soukup conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of these children in court. The program proved so successful that soon judges across the country adopted the program to use citizen advocates.
The U.S. Congress supported the expansion of CASA in 1990 when they passed the Victims of Child Abuse Act. According to the National CASA records, more than 800 CASA programs are in operation today helping kids in 50 states, with 42,400 women and men serving as CASA volunteers.
CASA came to Beaver County, PA in 2001.
Today, the program is located at 250 Insurance Street, less than a mile from the Beaver County Court House. Our goal is to assure that a permanent home is found for each child and that their chance for a stable, healthy life begins at the earliest stage of the judicial process. Last year in 2011, with 16 volunteers, CASA was able to advocate for 65 children. This year, we estimate that we will serve more than 80 abused and neglected children here in Beaver County. Estimates are that over 300 abused neglected children will come through juvenile court this year alone in Beaver County. With your support, CASA can bring light to the lives of more abused and neglected children in our community.
Everyone associated with the Beaver County CASA program can take pride in its achievements. In addition to helping thousands of PA children lead happier lives, the program has served as the cornerstone of the entire Pennsylvania CASA system. And it's done so with minimal government funding. Private donations from businesses, social and charitable organizations, and individuals make up the majority of the operating budget.The selfless dedication of our volunteers allows us to do a lot for a little.