The History of CASA
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 1990, the US Congress encouraged CASA programs' expansion with the passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act. Today, more than 1,018 CASA program offices operate in 49 states. Approximately 83% of CASA programs have been active for more than a decade.
A group of Baltimore County citizens desiring to serve abused and neglected children coordinated efforts to start a CASA locally. The new nonprofit was incorporated in 2000. Headed by the founding executive director, Susan Daddio, and the first Board of Directors, CASA of Baltimore County soon thrived.
Our program has expanded rapidly and today a staff of eight employees supports around 175 volunteer advocates each year. We serve roughly one third of the 600 abused and neglected children who are in foster care in Baltimore County. CASA of Baltimore County is one of the twenty CASA programs serving jurisdictions in Maryland.