CASA was founded in 1977, when a Seattle superior court judge, amidst an overwhelmed child welfare system, grew concerned about making decisions on behalf of abused and neglected children in his court without enough information. He felt that more individualized attention and time for gathering important facts would produce better outcomes for the children. He decided to appoint community volunteers to work on behalf of the children in his court.
Dallas CASA was one of three pilot programs established in 1979. The agency, then called FOCAS (Foster Child Advocate Services), was founded by the National Council of Jewish Women with funding from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation. Our first class of volunteers graduated in 1980.
Judges appoint Dallas CASA volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children, helping these children gain safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible. Dallas CASA exists so that abused and neglected children in protective care have the chance to become successful adults. With the help of caring advocates, the cycle of abuse and neglect will be broken.
Now more than 1,000 volunteers serve more than 2,700 children annually in Dallas County. Since the inception of CASA advocacy, Dallas volunteers have helped thousands of children find safe, permanent homes. Today, more than 76,000 advocates serve in nearly 1,000 state and local program offices nationwide.
Dallas CASA is a charter member of the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association and of Texas CASA. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit social service agency governed by a board of directors.
We envision a day when every child in foster care has a powerful voice in the court and in the community.
CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children under the protective care of the state, so they will have safe, permanent homes where they can thrive.
Who we help
Every year, more than 20,000 Dallas County children are reported abused or neglected. Some of them must be removed from their homes because it isn’t safe for them to remain. Many enter foster care and wait for the complex, often lengthy process in which a judge will determine where they may safely and permanently live. During this time they may move from one temporary home to another, never knowing what will happen next. This is where a CASA volunteer steps in.
What is a CASA Volunteer?
Dallas CASA volunteers are voices for abused and neglected children in court. CASA volunteers are trained and supervised to gather information and make recommendations that help judges decide the best possible outcome for children in foster care.
How we help
CASA volunteers get to the know the children, review records, research information and talk to everyone involved in a child’s life — social workers, attorneys, judges, parents, teachers and family members. The volunteers then make recommendations to the court that help judges decide the best permanent home for the children.
For CASA volunteers, the ultimate goal is to help ensure that all of the children in protective care find safe, permanent homes where they can thrive. Some children reunite with parents or relatives, while others make a connection with adoptive parents.
For many children, a CASA volunteer is the only constant during a frightening, uncertain time. Few volunteer roles have such a critical and immediate impact on the life of a child as that of a CASA volunteer.
Information courtesy of DallasCasa.org
Learn more about Dallas CASA here.