In 1977, a Seattle Superior Court Judge named David Soukup was concerned with 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 for the best interests of these children in court. He made a request for volunteers; 50 citizens responded, and that was the start of the CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) movement.
Each year, approximately 780,000 children in the US enter the court and child welfare system because they are unable to live safely at home. Many of these children have a CASA/GAL (guardian ad litem) volunteer appointed to them. CASA/GAL volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for abused and neglected children. They stay with each case until it has closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused and neglected children, their CASA/GAL volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their case.
Ohio CASA is a member of the National CASA Association. National CASA works with its state and local program members (including Ohio CASA and the local programs throughout Ohio) to support and promote court-appointed volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children. In 2008, more than 68,000 CASA/GAL volunteers served more than 240,000 abused and neglected children through 1,018 program offices nationwide. CASA/GAL volunteers have helped more than two million abused and neglected children since the National CASA Association was established in 1977.