The Judges' Page newsletter is published by the National CASA Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
The Vital Role of CASA/GAL Volunteers: Impacting Outcomes for Children and Youth
J. Dean Lewis, Judge (retired)
Former Member, National CASA Association Board of Trustees
Past President, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
As Juvenile and Family Court Judges, we have all been challenged by heavy dockets, limited resources, and scarce information to inform us about the issues on which we must make critical decisions. In 1977, Judge David Soukup in King County (Seattle), WA established the first CASA program. The program was established to provide court-based advocacy for abused and neglected children through the use of trained and supervised community volunteers. The CASA model spread quickly as judges and communities around the nation learned from the Seattle area program. The National CASA Association was founded in 1982.
Judges serving on the dependency court bench today face the same problems that Judge Soukup faced nearly 40 years ago. But the difference is that many courts now have CASA/GAL programs. The organization has grown to 949 programs with more than 76,000 volunteers serving over 251,000 abused and neglected children annually. If you do not have a CASA/GAL program in your community, contact the National CASA Association.
The National CASA Association, together with its state and local member programs, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every abused or neglected child in the United States can be safe, have a permanent home, and the opportunity to thrive. The organization strives to provide abused and neglected children with the best possible advocacy. Programs are governed by the National CASA Association’s Standards for Local CASA/GAL Programs and are evaluated as to compliance and quality assurance on a regular basis. Volunteers are trained and monitored based upon the requirements of standards.
As a Juvenile and Family Court Judge you can be assured that there are both short term and long term benefits for children and youth by having a CASA/GAL program available in your court. The articles in this issue will assist you in understanding how vital the role of the CASA/GAL volunteer is in achieving successful outcomes for these children and youth.