CASA History

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a national volunteer movement, began in 1976. It’s founder, Seattle Superior Court Judge David Soukup, decided he couldn’t endure any more sleepless nights worrying about the lifelong impact his decisions had on abused and neglected children.

At that time, children in foster care didn’t receive the same representation in court as parents did. According to Judge Soukup, in an LA Times interview, “I was consumed by the fact that I didn’t have enough information about each child, and I just didn’t know if I had done the very best job I could.”

Judge Soukup sets out to right this wrong.

He thought well-trained volunteers could ensure children’s voices were heard and provide judges with the necessary insight to make the best possible decisions.

By 1977, Judge Soukup formed the first CASA program to recruit, train, and supervise everyday people who volunteered to build meaningful relationships and advocate for abused and neglected children in juvenile dependency court. Those first 50 volunteers became Court Appointed Special Advocates, and gave birth to a movement. Today, close to 1,000 CASA programs serve children in 49 of our 50 states.

California CASA was created to empower local programs.

Local CASA directors who ran county-wide programs, recognized the need for a state office that could grow and strengthen the CASA network. Together, they formed California CASA Association in 1987.

At our founding, only 17% of California Superior Courts had access to CASA volunteers. Through persistence, partnership, and passion for our mission, our grassroots network of CASA programs has grown to serve children and courts in 84% of California’s 58 counties, covering the region where 99% of foster youth live.

Today, CASA volunteers change lives, one foster child at a time. Learn how you can Get Involved. To hear David Soukup tell his story about founding CASA in his own words, check out this short video: