About CASA of
Texas CASA is part of a national volunteer movement that began over 33 years ago, when a judge in Seattle decided he needed to know more about the children whose lives were in his hands. The solution he started was using community volunteers as a "voice in court" for abused and neglected children. These Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) provided him with the detailed information he needed to safeguard the children's best interests and ensure that they were placed in safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible. The program was so successful that it was copied around the nation. In 1990, the U.S. Congress encouraged the expansion of CASA with passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act.
Today, the CASA movement has evolved into one of the largest volunteer organizations in the country. There are more than 900 CASA programs in operation - at least one in every state - and more than 52,000 trained volunteer advocates nationwide. In fiscal year 2009 in Texas, 5,646 CASA volunteers advocated for the best interests of 19,818 children in 204 counties.
The first CASA program in Texas began in Dallas in 1979. Texas CASA, which was formed in 1989, serves the 69 local CASA programs currently operating statewide by providing: funding; training; technical assistance; coordination for program expansion and development; and tools and strategies for raising public awareness of child abuse and the need for volunteer advocates.
CASA of Johnson County was founded November 20, 2002 when Judge John Neill saw the need for a CASA organization in our community. Volunteers took their first cases in July 2003. Since then, CASA has been assigned to over 600 cases and served more than 1000 abused and neglected children in Johnson County. We currently have 93 trained volunteers and six office staff providing a powerful voice for 350 abused and neglected children in Johnson County.
As a judge, I had to make crucial decisions. I had to decide whether to take a child from the only home he's ever known, or leave him somewhere with the possibility of being abused. I needed someone who could tell me what was best for that child from the child's viewpoint. That's what CASA of Johnson County does," said founder, Judge Neill. "CASA volunteers have truly become champions for these children.
We believe that all children have the right to a home with loving people to care for them. But each year in the United States, children are abused, neglected or abandoned by their families. They are removed from their homes and placed in foster care or institutions. Eventually, they end up in court. Their only "crime" is that they have been victims. It is up to the judge to decide their future.
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