CASA of Allegheny County
CASA of Allegheny County is an advocacy group that engages community volunteers who are passionately seeking involvement in their neighborhoods, focusing on advocating for abused and neglected children in the areas where they live. We are the only program that allows for such in-depth community involvement in the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors.
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer is a trained citizen (21 years or older) who is appointed by a judge to advocate for the best interest of a child in court. CASA volunteers advocate for children who are before the court as a result of abuse or neglect as defined by the state child welfare laws, living at home or in out-of-home care. CASA volunteer best interest advocacy is driven by the guiding principle that children grow and develop best with their family of origin if that can safely be achieved.
CASA of Allegheny County volunteers serve as the “eyes and ears” for the judge in child welfare cases. This includes researching each child’s situation and making objective recommendations to help them reclaim their childhoods from ill-treatment, not being cared for, disparagement and brutalization . Our model of best-interest advocacy has life-changing impact and helps ensure children are safe and have the opportunity to flourish.
The Pennsylvania Court Appointed Special Advocates Association (PA CASA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 to grow, strengthen, and unite local CASA programs so they can ensure the safety, well-being, and forever home for every abused and/or neglected child in Pennsylvania. To fulfill its mission, PA CASA supports the existing network of local CASA programs, builds new CASA programs and secures resources critical to CASA’s mission. Currently, PA CASA provides training, technical assistance, and continuous quality improvement services to the 22 local CASA programs serving 28 counties. In the remaining 39 counties, PA CASA actively pursues program development. Through statewide advocacy, PA CASA provides resources that make it easier for CASA programs to serve children. PA CASA’s vision is for every abused and/or neglected child in Pennsylvania to have access to the service and support of a CASA volunteer.
For additional information, please refer to the PA CASA website.
Judge Soukup, a Juvenile Court Judge, watched as many parties entered and exited the juvenile dependency courtroom, but he never heard anyone speak strictly on behalf of the child. Inspiration came when Judge Soukup had insufficient information to make a life-changing decision for a 3-year-old girl who had suffered from child abuse. Judge Soukup’s idea of training volunteers to speak up in the courtroom on behalf of a child’s best interests came to fruition in 1977. The first CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program was established in Seattle (King County), Washington, and was endorsed as a model for safeguarding a child’s rights to a safe and permanent family by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. As the program model continued to grow and develop in other states, the National CASA Association was formed in Seattle in 1984. Currently, there are nearly 1,000 CASA programs throughout the United States. The CASA/GAL network has reached over 2 million children since National CASA/GAL’s inception.
The National CASA/GAL Association, together with state and local member programs, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every child who has experienced abuse or neglect can be safe, have a permanent home, and the opportunity to thrive.
For additional information, please refer to the National CASA/GAL website.