The first Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program was established in 1977 by Judge Soukup, a Seattle Family Court Judge. Later that year, A National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges committee endorses the program as a model for safeguarding a child’s rights to a safe and permanent family. While independent CASA programs emerged around the US, it was not until 1991, when the US Congress encouraged the expansion of the CASA program with the passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act, that we became a fully national program.
Established in January 2000, CASA of New Jersey is an independent non-profit organization that ensures that the services of a CASA volunteer advocate – trained and supervised by a local CASA program – are available to every child in out-of-home placement throughout the state. Through funding, training, public education, and technical assistance, CASA of New Jersey supports a statewide network of affiliated community-based CASA programs that advocate for the best interests of children removed from their homes because of abuse and/or neglect.
In 1999, existing CASA programs in New Jersey programs came together with leaders from the Court, the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), and community members to create the statewide CASA program. The vision was a statewide organization capable of expanding the CASA program throughout New Jersey, while supporting existing programs, and extending CASA services to every NJ foster child who needed one.
We are proud to have been an integral part of establishing programs in all fifteen New Jersey vicinages as well as building formidable relationships with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Courts. The nature of these relationships is exemplified through the creation of AOC’s Best Practice Standards for CASA Programs.
The CASA program in New Jersey is the only entity authorized by State Statute (N.J.S.A.2A:4A-92) to provide one-on-one advocacy and monitoring for children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.