Court Appointed Special Advocates

History of CASA

The CASA concept was conceived in Seattle, Washington by The Honorable David Soukup in 1977. Judge Soukup realized he did not have enough information to make an informed decision about the future of abused and neglected children who were before him. In his effort to garner more information, he decided to use trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of these children in court. His idea proved so successful that soon judges across the country adopted the same model.

In 1982 the National CASA Association for Children was formed to unify the movement and provide leadership to local programs. Members of the Association must adhere to standards related to organizational and service quality. There are more than 950 CASA programs in 49 states, with more than 93,000 men and women speaking up as CASA volunteers for over 242,000 abused and neglected children and youth.

Virginia’s first CASA program began in 1986 in Newport News. In 1990 the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation providing for statewide implementation of the CASA program. The legislation assigned the responsibility for oversight of local programs and for development of statewide regulations to the Department of Criminal Justice Services. The regulations provide programs with standards to help ensure consistency of program development and service delivery; addressing several basic areas, including screening, training, and policy and procedure development for local programs.

Chesterfield CASA, a member of the National CASA Association for Children, was formed by a group of local citizens concerned about the increasing number of child victims in our community. We serve the 12th Judicial District Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court, with jurisdiction in Chesterfield County and the City of Colonial Heights. We received our 501(c)(3) status in 1996 and began assigning volunteers to cases in 1997. Since then, we have been appointed to advocate for over 1,900 children.