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The CASA Movement: Where it All Began

The CASA program was established by family court Judge David Soukup in Washington state in 1977. He realized that in an over-burdened system, he needed help in obtaining the information needed to make the most informed decisions as to the disposition of each case in the life of each child. He felt that independent community volunteers who had the time to devote to each child were the most viable answer. This led to the establishment of Court Appointed Special Advocates, an organization which provides trained community volunteers who keep up to date with cases, facilitate the delivery of mandated services, advocate on behalf of the child to the Court, and monitor the cases until jurisdiction is terminated. Today there are 950 programs in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

Court Room
Sibling Piggyback

Voices for Children/CASA of Southeast Missouri

In the Fall of 1991, due to concerns over the plight of abused and neglected children in our area, several concerned individuals met with the Honorable Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., Circuit Court Judge and Juvenile Court Judge of the 32nd Judicial Circuit for the purpose of soliciting the Court’s support for the development and implementation of a local CASA program. A Board of Directors composed of nine individuals who had a long standing history of being involved in working with abused and neglected children and included, among others, representatives from the judiciary, local police department, Juvenile Office, local counseling providers, and the Department of Family Services. Out of this effort, CASA of Southeast Missouri, Inc., was formed and began training volunteers in April of 1992.

Five volunteers were sworn in on July 17, 1992. At that time, staff consisted of an unpaid CASA volunteer supervisor and the budget was $5,000. By the summer of 1993, CASA had eight trained volunteers and a part-time Volunteer Coordinator serving the children of Southeast Missouri. CASA was incorporated in October 1991 and was awarded nonprofit 501(c)3 status in July 1993. Since that time the CASA program has grown and in 2015, 77 children were served by 33 volunteers.

In 2016 the program has re-branded as Voices for Children CASA to more effectively represent the role of the program to the community. With the continued assistance of VOCA funding we have also added a second volunteer coordinator which will allow us to double both the number of advocates and the number of children we are able to serve.

September 3, 2019 the program expanded into the 33rd Judicial Circuit of Missouri which includes Mississippi and Scott counties.

So, what is CASA?

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Here's what they do:

Best-Interest Advocacy

CASA core model graphic


Learn all you can about the child and their family and life.


Engage with the child during regular visits.


Collaborate with others to ensure that necessary services are provided and in the child's best interest.


Report what you have learned and what you have observed to the court.


Speak up for the child's best interests in court. Make recommendations regarding the child's placement and needed services, and monitor the child's situation until the case is released by the court.

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