Judicial Perspective

"I know I am a better judge because I have CASA volunteers in my courtroom, and my county is a better place for children because of CASA volunteers." -Judge Elise Givhan Spainhour, Family Court Judge, Bullitt County, KY

Would you as a judge like to improve the flow of abuse and neglect cases through your court? Do you ever need more in-depth information to assist you in making better-informed decisions to assure that children are being placed in safe, permanent homes more quickly? Do you ever feel overwhelmed with the legal and social responsibility of a juvenile court judge in supervising multiple cases of abused and neglected children?

If so, you may want to consider establishing a CASA Program (Court Appointed Special Advocate) in your jurisdiction or community. In 1977, a Seattle judge named David Soukup did just that. He asked members of his community to meet with him to discuss ways in which they could assist him in fulfilling his legal responsibility. Over 50 people responded and went to work. The result was the creation of the first CASA program in the United States. Trained volunteers became a part of the court proceedings, bringing with them enthusiasm and commitment, greatly assisting the court by investigating each child’s circumstances, making recommendations about the child’s needs, and monitoring the case plan to ensure timely compliance with court orders.

Today there are more than 1,055 CASA programs in the US, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. The program has been endorsed by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, by the Conference of Chief Justices and State Court Administrators, the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, and many others.

If you would like to explore involving invaluable community volunteers as allies in meeting the needs of abused and neglected children in your county, please contact the Alabama CASA Network office at 205 833-1135, or e-mail acasanet@bellsouth.net for further information or to arrange a personal meeting with the Executive Director.  The Alabama CASA office provides technical support and guidance in establishing programs.

Watch this 14 minute video to learn more about Improving outcomes for youth through a CASA program.


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