Illinois CASA is part of a national volunteer movement that began in 1977 when a judge in Seattle decided he needed to know more about the children whose lives were in his hands. He started using community volunteers – regular citizens – as a “voice in court” for abused and neglected children. These Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) provided him with the detailed information he needed to safeguard the children’s best interests and ensure that they were placed in safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible. The program was so successful that it was copied around the nation.
Illinois CASA was founded in 1993 and is the organizing body for thirty one CASA programs in 47 counties in Illinois that recruit, train and manage close to 2,500 CASA volunteers who advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court. CASA volunteers, who contributed more than 190,000 hours of their collective time last year, are trained and supervised by their local agencies and sworn to confidentiality by the Juvenile Judge of the Circuit Court. CASA volunteers gather objective information and report to the court regularly on the status of each child. This information is used by the Judge to determine if the child should be reunified with their family or prepared for adoption. The CASA volunteer works as a team member with the caseworker assigned by DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) and the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) Attorney assigned to the child. Each CASA volunteer is assigned to one case (usually one or two children) at a time and serves on that case until it closes. Often times the CASA volunteer is the only consistent, caring adult in the child’s life.
Illinois CASA champions children by supporting, uniting, and growing local programs to provide a court appointed volunteer advocate for abused and neglected children throughout the State.
All Illinois children will grow and thrive in a safe and secure environment.
We’re Part of Something Bigger
Today, the National CASA Association, together with its state and local members, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children so that they can thrive in safe, permanent homes. A national network of nearly 1,000 program offices serves children in 49 states.
CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to advocate for the best interests of abused children and to ensure that they do not get lost in the overburdened child welfare system or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home.
Last year, more than 76,000 CASA and GAL volunteers served as a consistent, caring adult in the lives of over 251,000 children in the dependency system.
National CASA provides local program staff with training and assistance in a variety of areas, including funding, program development and volunteer recruitment and training.