Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are community volunteers, just like you, who stand up and speak out to help abused and neglected children. To a foster child adrift in the system, having a CASA Volunteer is more than a compass — it’s a lifeline.
This CASA is part of a national network of community-based, non-profit organizations that recruit, screen, train, and supervise volunteers to "Speak Up for a Child" removed from home due to abuse or neglect. CASA works one-on-one with an abused or neglected child, advocating for his or her best interests and working towards achieving permanency in a safe, nurturing home as soon as possible. Our vision is to have a safe and loving home for every child.
In 1976, a Seattle Superior Court Judge, the Honorable 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 for the best interests of these children in court and implemented a pilot program in 1977.
This pilot program consisted of 110 trained CASA volunteers. In 1978, the Seattle program was recognized by the National Center of State Courts. This recognition, along with financial support, resulted in the replication of the Seattle CASA program across the county. In 1982, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association was formed.
Today, there are more than 50,000 advocates serving in more than 940 state and local program offices nationwide. 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, permanent homes in which they can thrive.
CASA OF WARREN
AND FOREST COUNTIES
In December of 2002, Warren County’s Children and Youth Services presented information about CASA to the Child Abuse Prevention Committee of Warren (CAP), a partnership of many community agencies committed to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. After forming an initial steering committee, hearing a presentation by the Pennsylvania State CASA, and visiting outlying CASA programs in other parts of the state, CAP became energized about the concept of initiating a CASA program in Warren and Forest Counties. In August of 2003, the CAP steering committee expanded its membership to form the CASA Task Force and a business plan was developed.
Members of the CASA Task Force included: Both directors of Children and Youth from Forest and Warren Counties, the Director of the Jefferson DeFrees Family Center, the Courts Guardian ad Litem, the President Judge and several concerned citizens from both Warren and Forest Counties.
In May 2003, the Jefferson DeFrees Family Center agreed to serve as a startup site for CASA of Warren and Forest Counties. CASA has received a non –profit status under the umbrella of the Jefferson DeFrees Family Center tax-exempt status. Lisa Thompson, our director, was hired in May of 2004 and the first CASA Volunteers were sworn in November of 2004.
Additionally, our local program is one of 22 programs in Pennsylvania. Currently, our local director, Lisa Thompson is also serving as the Vice President of the Pennsylvanian CASA State Association board of directors.