CASA Court Appointed Special Advocates
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a national program founded in 1977 by Judge David Soukoup in Seattle, WA. Judge Soukoup conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court. This pilot program was so successful, judges across the country began utilizing volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in their courtroom. In 1990, Congress encouraged the expansion of CASA programs with passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act.
Essex County CASA program began in October 1991 with the support of a local juvenile judge and a local state representative. The first case was assigned in May 1992 out of the Lawrence Juvenile Court. In the fall of 1997, Essex County CASA expanded to include the Newburyport Juvenile Court and in July 2000, CASA became part of Family Services. In 2014 CASA expanded to the Salem Juvenile Court.
Family Services’ Essex County CASA program currently has over 50 volunteers who advocate each year on behalf of more than 100 children. The program serves Lawrence, Newburyport, and Salem, Massachusetts Juvenile Courts.