The Court Appointed Special Advocate concept began in Seattle, Washington, during the early 1970′s. There is now some version of the program in every state. Currently, 85 of the 92 total Indiana counties offer a CASA program.
In the early 1980’s, former Juvenile Court Judge, Judge Robert Lensing, appointed a special community task force to research and study the need for child-centered advocacy in his court. After careful consideration, the community task force recommended the establishment of a program that advocated for abused and neglected children in the community. Due to the fact that there was a growing need in the community for such a program, Judge Lensing, in partnership with community leaders and dedicated advocates, established the Vanderburgh County CASA program in 1984.
The CASA program was established to directly benefit abused and neglected children in the community. CASA volunteers are appointed by the court to advocate for children in abuse or neglect cases. Program volunteer coordinators work with volunteer advocates to serve as a “voice” for the children; to make sure they don’t get lost in the legal and social service system. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed in court and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused and neglected children, their CASA volunteer will be the only constant adult presence in their lives. CASA of Vanderburgh County greatly benefits the community by giving the most vulnerable children the opportunity to thrive in an environment that will allow them to grow into well-adjusted, productive citizens of society.