CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) was founded by juvenile court Judge David Soukup in 1977 in Seattle, Washington. The idea came to him when he became frustrated that children in the foster care system were not represented in the same manner as the parents and governmental agencies. “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” (L.A. Times). Judge Soukup believed that specially trained volunteers, whose only role was to advocate for the best interest of the child, could give judges better insight into the facts not provided by the arguing parties. The idea caught on and more than forty years later, CASA is present in 49 states plus the District of Columbia with just under 100,000 volunteer advocates representing approximately 250,000 children each year.
In Texas alone, there are 73 CASA programs with roughly 11,000 volunteers. CASA for KIDS in Paris has been advocating for the children of Lamar, Red River, and Delta Counties since 1997 and currently has over 30 volunteers and seven staff members representing 100-plus children at any given time.
As for Judge Soukup, he left the bench in 1993, went into private practice, and became a CASA himself!