In 1977, Judge David Soukup of Seattle realized that there was no one in the courtroom whose only job was to provide a voice for the child. He was consumed by the fact that very little information was provided about the child and didn’t know if he was doing the best job he could. He believed that volunteers, properly trained, could speak for the children and give judges better insight into the facts pertaining to the child. Through his efforts the first volunteer guardian “ad litem” program was established, which later became known as CASA.
The core components of Judge Soukup’s pilot program are essentially the same today: judges appoint selected, well-trained volunteers to represent the best interests of children in court. CASA volunteers typically handle just one or two cases at a time so they can provide in-depth, first-hand documented information to judges, attorneys, and social workers to assist in sound decision making.
In 1987, the Oregon Legislature mandated that all abused and neglected children in Oregon should have a CASA and two pilot programs were started. This mandate requires the CASA to investigate, advocate, facilitate and negotiate, and monitor.
Through volunteers, CASA of Polk County advocates for abused and neglected children who need safe and permanent homes. CASA volunteers are a caring and consistent adult presence for abused and neglected children facing multiple challenges, a CASA volunteer may be the one constant adult presence in their lives. Advocates stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.
CASA programs use effective evidence-based practices to help support these children. Independent studies have established that a child with a CASA volunteer is more likely to find a safe and permanent home; more likely to be adopted; half as likely to re-enter foster care; and substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care than children without a CASA volunteer.
CASA is preparing for their 3rd Annual CASA of Polk County Golf Tournament “Fore” Kids. All proceeds for the event will go to the children that CASA works with. It will take place at Cross Creek Golf Course on June 30th. We hope that even if you don’t play you will come down to support the event, the players, and the kids.