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Our History

Our History

We’ve been standing up for children since 1977.

About Us

It was a judge’s idea

Inspiration came to Seattle juvenile court judge David W. Soukup in 1976.

Judge Soukup had insufficient information to make a life-changing decision for a 3-year-old girl who had suffered from child abuse.

That’s where the idea came from: These children, who had experienced abuse or neglect, needed trained volunteers speaking up in the courtroom for their best interests.

“It terrified me to make decisions about kids when I didn’t have anybody there.” - Judge David W. Soukup

“It terrified me to make decisions about kids when I didn’t have anybody there.” – Judge David W. Soukup


“When I walked into the lunchroom, there were 50 people there. And I said, ‘This is going to work.’”

– Judge Soukup on the first CASA/GAL meeting, thinking six or seven people would show up

The History of the CASA/GAL Movement

The Honorable Judge Soukup starts the first CASA/GAL program in Seattle (King County), Washington.
A National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges committee endorses the program as a model for safeguarding a child’s rights to a safe and permanent family.
Judge John F. Mendoza of Nevada suggests the term “court-appointed special advocate” to designate the lay court-appointed volunteers.
The first Annual CASA Conference is held in Nevada, and participants vote to establish the National CASA Association.
The number of CASA/GAL programs reaches 88.
Twenty-nine states have CASA/GAL programs.
The National CASA Association forms in Seattle.
National CASA enters into its first cooperative agreement with the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, which remains our largest funder to date.
President Ronald Reagan presents National CASA with the President’s Volunteer Action Award.
10,000 children served annually through 159 programs.
40,000 children served by 12,000 volunteers in 271 local programs and 44 states.
Tribal courts first begin CASA programs through grants to five tribes.
National CASA becomes Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation’s national charity.
72,000 children served by 17,000 volunteers in 412 program offices.
The CASA program is first authorized in the Victims of Child Abuse Act.
129,000 children served by 38,000 volunteers in 642 program offices.
Congress amends the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act to allow the required GAL to be an attorney or CASA volunteer.

The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), originally enacted in 1974, establishes national definitions regarding child abuse and neglect and assigns certain responsibilities to the federal government, particularly relating to data collection and technical assistance.

The National Bar Association endorses CASA volunteer advocacy.
174,000 children served by 47,000 volunteers in 900 program offices.
National CASA’s partnership with Jewelers for Children, our largest private funder, begins.
CASA network reaches 2 million children served since inception.
Akerman LLP, a top 100 U.S. law firm serving clients and communities across the Americas, intensified its philanthropic and pro bono legal efforts with a $1 million pledge to the National CASA Association.
National CASA Association opens an office in Washington, D.C.
The first annual Akerman Academic Excellence Scholarship award is given to a youth in foster care to assist with college expenses.
National CASA celebrates its 35th anniversary.
The number of CASA/GAL volunteers across the country increased by nearly 10 percent, to 93,300, facilitating best interest advocacy to 271,800 children and youth through 950 programs.
As part of the Change a Child’s Story™ awareness campaign, National CASA Association changes its name to National Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian Ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Association for Children.
Kappa Alpha Theta fulfills its $1 million pledge.
National CASA/GAL Association opens an office in Atlanta, Georgia.
National CASA/GAL celebrates 40 years of impact.
The first Walk Run Thrive event kicks off.
Congress designates May 18, 2021, as CASA/GAL Volunteer’s Day.

More than 40 years later, with the number of children in the system on the rise, we need volunteers more than ever.

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