Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) began in 1977 when Judge David Soukup of Seattle's juvenile court became concerned about making drastic decisions about children's lives with insufficient information. At that time, foster children didn’t have the same representation in court as their parents. In an LA Times interview, Judge Soukup noted, “I was consumed by the fact that I didn't have enough information about each child, and I just didn't know if I had done the very best job I could." So he took action, seeking well-trained volunteers to ensure children’s voices were heard.
CASA of New Jersey was created in 2000, after the establishment of CASA programs in Essex County in 1986 and Morris County in 1987, with the goal of addressing the need to expand CASA programs statewide. That goal was met and today a CASA program operates in every New Jersey county. CASA of New Jersey provides support to all CASA programs throughout the state, primarily through funding, training, public education and technical assistance. In addition, it provides a forum for local CASA programs to share resources and improve services, and it unifies CASA’s voice on behalf of children in foster care statewide.
CASA of Union County was established in 2005, and has since been recruiting, training, supervising and supporting community volunteers to advocate for abused, neglected and abandoned children placed in foster homes or residential facilities. Since its inception, CASA of Union County has trained nearly 300 volunteers and advocated for nearly 500 children placed in foster care through no fault of their own. There are currently 600 Union County youth in foster care and CASA of Union County serves one-third of those children, from birth to age 21.
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