A Strong Legacy of Helping Children in Need
The Fairfax Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program was founded in 1989 by a group of community-minded Fairfax County citizens responding to a request for a CASA program from the Fairfax County Juvenile & Domestic Relations District Court (Court). Since that time, Fairfax CASA has operated as a 501(c)(3) public charity accepting support from individuals, corporations, and public funds to ensure that children who are victims of abuse and neglect are placed in safe and permanent homes as quickly as possible. This purpose is accomplished by recruiting, training, and supervising community volunteers to serve as special advocates for children whose families have been cited for abuse and neglect by the Court. It is the driving goal of Fairfax CASA to ensure that the best interests of all children referred by a judge are represented before the Court. Since its founding, Fairfax CASA has recruited and trained nearly 1,800 CASA volunteers to provide this critical service to more than 6,700 children who have been referred by the Court.
The model for Fairfax CASA originated in Seattle, Washington where, in 1977, a Superior Court Judge, David Soukup, developed a pilot program for volunteer advocates, named Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA volunteers, who would be trained to serve as the “eyes and ears” of the judge into the environments and circumstances of abused and neglected children and to serve as the voice for each child in Court. Judge Soukup’s vision arose from his concern that the he was responsible for making life-changing decisions on behalf of extremely vulnerable children without enough background information and evidence to support the best interest of each child. So successful was his pilot program that, after the passage of the of the U.S. Congress Victims of Child Abuse Act in 1990, the CASA model rapidly spread throughout the country and today there are more than 1,000 local CASA programs nationwide with a corps of 70,000 plus men and women serving as CASA volunteers. Virginia CASA programs are established by state statute [§§ 9.1-151 through 9.1-157] under which Fairfax CASA serves more children than any CASA program in the Commonwealth and in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.