The nation's first CASA program was developed in Seattle, Washington in 1977 by Judge David Soukup.
Judge Soukup realized that he needed help in determining what was in the best interest of the children whose cases he had before him in court.
“Over 30 years ago, while sitting as a judge in juvenile court, I realized that there was no one in the courtroom whose only job was to provide a voice for those children. Caseworkers have obligations to their agency, the parent and others. Lawyers cannot investigate the facts and advocate for the mental health and social needs of the child. While sitting at juvenile court, I never got a night’s sleep without waking to wonder if at least one decision I made that day had been the best for a child. It struck me that it might be possible to recruit and train volunteers to investigate a child’s case so they could provide a voice for the child in those proceedings, proceedings which could affect their whole lives. I had my bailiff call four or five people in the community who might be resources in recruiting volunteers to ask if they would meet for a brown bag lunch at juvenile court to discuss the idea. There were 50 people in the room when I walked in for that lunch. I thought, “This idea is going to work.” It has.”
Since then over 1,000 CASA programs have been established throughout the nation.
Judge Edward Berry helped Goochland CASA get started in 2005.
“From my first involvement with Goochland County, I was impressed with the collaborative efforts that our local service agencies employ when dealing with children and families that have court or agency involvement. Implementation of the new policy required community buy-in. Debra Pierce from the Office on Youth and I came to the conclusion that CASA would be a great way to insure community involvement. Goochland is a caring community. CASA would give the citizens the opportunity to see firsthand how the “system” worked. The community through the volunteer advocates would be able to help a child’s voice be heard in court. The advocates could help monitor the child’s world and the parent’s efforts to comply. CASA volunteers would be there to investigate and report; always making us keep the child’s best interest our focus of concern. For a county the size of Goochland to be able to maintain an intense program of child advocacy that you have done is remarkable. To maintain and develop the volunteers, supervise and monitor the cases and sustain the program financially is a major undertaking. Only a community dedicated to protecting its most vulnerable citizens could do this. “