The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program was created in 1977 in Seattle, Washington by Judge David W. Soukup, who was overseeing cases where a child or children were removed from their homes and placed in the state’s custody because of abuse or neglect. While attorney “guardian ad litems” were appointed to these children, they were generally too busy to conduct the in-depth investigation that was required. Social workers responsible for the cases were often already spread too thin to devote extensive time to each child’s case.
As a result, Judge Soukup recruited and trained community volunteers to step into the courtroom on the children’s behalf, with the ability to focus solely on one child’s best interest. They became known as Court Appointed Special Advocates, and were the foundation to what later became known as National CASA.
Voices for Children is a result of Judge Soukop’s early work, the spread of CASA from its place of origin, and the hard work of fellow community members who strived to make CASA a part of the Brazos Valley. Voices for Children was incorporated as an organization in 2000, with the first group of CASA Volunteers completing training in July 2001. Voices for Children expanded to include Grimes County in 2007 and Burleson County in 2009. Since then we have grown as a program and are currently serving 100% of the children in Brazos County, 100% in Grimes and 60% in Burleson who are in the state’s custody.
In 2014, we celebrated our 14th Anniversary and served over 200 children, 85 of whom have been placed in a safe, permanent, and nurturing home, outside of foster care. We still have work to be done. We want 100 percent of children in Brazos, Grimes, and Burleson counties to have a CASA volunteer speaking for them.