In 1977, a Seattle Superior Court Judge, David Soukup, often felt that he didn’t have enough information about the unique circumstances of each abused or neglected child that he saw in his courtroom. Making crucial, life-changing decisions impacting children was difficult given the incomplete case facts he heard from the bench. He decided to deputize a friend and asked her to do a thorough investigation of a child’s situation as well as getting to know the child himself.
It was a novel idea, and it worked. He put the word out and fifty citizens answered the call. These individuals became the first Court Appointed Special Advocates, and the CASA program was born. The idea spread nationally. Since the establishment of the first program, CASA volunteers have advocated for more than two million children.
In 1988, Judge David Mitchell and a team of loving citizens established CASA of Baltimore with the desire to serve Baltimore's abused and neglected children. The nonprofit was incorporated in 1995. Since its conception, CASA of Baltimore has continued to grow and today a staff of seven employees, along with 85 volunteers, advocate for 120 children and youth in foster care each year.
CASA of Baltimore's mission is to provide court appointed special advocates to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children involved in Baltimore’s juvenile court system to encourage reunification, help them find a permanent family, and reach their full potential.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are volunteers who are appointed by a judge. These volunteers ensure that their assigned child's educational, medical, social service and mental health needs are understood and represented. The CASA volunteer is given the authority by the court to provide vital advocacy and attention to an individual child. CASA volunteers ensure the court hears what is in the child's best interest, and that these children have hope for the future.