History in the Making
In 1976, Judge David W. Soukup of the Seattle juvenile court planted the seed for what would become CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates. Judge Soukup was forced make a decision for a three-year-old girl who had suffered abuse at home, and realized that he had insufficient information to make such a life-changing choice. In his own words, “It terrified me to make decisions about kids when I didn’t have anybody there.” As a result of this epiphany, Judge Soukup proposed the idea for CASA, so that children like that little girl, who had suffered abuse or neglect, could have someone to speak to their best interest in the courtroom. CASA was officially founded the next year, in 1977 in Seattle, with Judge John F. Mendoza proposing its name in 1978. Within the next five years, there were 88 CASA/Guardian Ad Litem programs in the US, reaching 29 states. Within ten years of its founding, CASA had served 40,000 children with 12,000 volunteers in 271 local programs across 44 states. Another five years later, that number had practically doubled. In 2007, CASA network hit a milestone, having reached two million children in the thirty years since its inception.
CASA has expanded rapidly since 1977, and in November of 2017, Erin Smith founded a CASA program in Lafayette County—soon to expand to cover even more of Northern Mississippi. In the last year, we have been able to see the huge difference that our volunteers have already made in our community. We are currently serving 20 children on 11 cases, and have closed one case, reunifying that child with their family. We have 9 active volunteers, with 11 awaiting training, and are always looking for more. Last December, we served 32 children by providing them with Christmas gifts with the help of the community. Our program has also helped fund childcare and after school care, necessary material items such as clothing, and even medical treatments not covered by insurance. With your help, we can make an even bigger difference in our community and make our own history. As much history as CASA already has, there is far more awaiting us in the future of this organization.
If you want to learn more or donate to the cause, visit https://www.casaoflafayettecounty.com/