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 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 Soukop’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 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 and permanent homes.
CASA in NJ
The first CASA programs in NJ were established in 1986 and 1987 with Essex County and Morris County respectively. CASA of NJ was created in 2000 to address the need to expand CASA programs throughout the state. In addition to expanding the CASA model into all counties, CASA of NJ provides support to community-based CASA programs in NJ, primarily through funding, training, public education, and technical assistance. Additionally, it provides a forum for local CASA programs to share resources, improve their programs, and unify CASA’s voice on behalf of children in foster care statewide.
CASA in Monmouth County
In need of assistance to serve Monmouth County’s abused and neglected children, the Family Court of Monmouth County tried to set up a court-run Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program in 2001. Due to the unavailability of staff and funding to run the program, they requested the CASA program be developed as an independent non-profit here in Monmouth County (MC). The initial set up phase began in October of 2003 through the combined undertakings of CASA of New Jersey and Monmouth County local officials and community members. With the support of the NJ Family Court in MC and the Department of Child Protection & Permanency (DCP&P), CASA of MC was able to open in 2004 as an independent non-profit and began serving children in February 2005.