Court Appointed Special Advocates: The Beginning:
In 1977, a Seattle Superior Court Judge, David Soukup, was losing sleep over trying to make the best decisions for abused and neglected children in his courtroom. There were many times when he felt that he did not have enough information about each child’s unique circumstances. Judge Soukup knew that the decisions he was making would have a lifelong impact on these children. He came up with an idea. What if he could train community volunteers to get to know these children and their circumstances. These volunteers, Court Appointed Special Advocates, could report back to him what they had learned and he would then be able to make a decision based on the best interests of the child. He put the word out that he was looking for volunteers, expecting five or ten people to hear the call. Fifty citizens responded. Thus, the CASA concept was born.
'When you're involved with a child and you're trying to decide what to do to facilitate that child's growth into a mature and happy adult, you don't feel like you have sufficient information to allow you to make the right decision. You can't walk away and leave them at the courthouse at 4 o'clock. You wonder, 'Do I really know everything I should? Have I really been told all of the different things? Is this really right?'"
Judge Soukup's idea has blossomed into a nationwide program. Last year, more than 70,900 CASA volunteers served more than 237,000 abused and neglected children through 1,055 program offices. CASA volunteers have helped more than two million abused children since the first program was established.
CASA El Dorado's Beginning:
In 1992, Judge Patrick J. Riley introduced and supported a CASA program on the Western Slope of El Dorado County. The program expanded to include South Lake Tahoe in 1994 to ensure all children are served.
Today CASA El Dorado provides over 150 trained CASA volunteers to advocate for the best interests of more than 400 children annually.
With the guidance, encouragement and support of the Honorable Presiding Judge Suzanne K. Kingsbury, CASA El Dorado has grown into a program that is respected for their child advocacy in the Court system also earning a high level of respectability in our community.