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Court Appointed Special Advocate Program (CASA)














Program Description

CASA is the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program. CASA is a child advocacy organization that seeks to provide trained volunteers to speak for abused and neglected children who are the subjects of juvenile court proceedings. CASA volunteers advocate for safe, permanent homes for children. CASA began in 1977 in Seattle, Washington by Judge David Soukup who saw the need for more information on cases involving children in his court. The social services and legal systems were overburdened and CASA was created to assist in obtaining information and providing follow up monitoring of court orders.

The National CASA/GAL Association was founded in 1982, and provides technical assistance and national leadership to local CASA programs. The CASA concept is endorsed by American Bar Association, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. There are nearly 900 CASA/GAL programs in 49 states recruiting, training and supporting volunteers to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom and other settings. Nearly 85,000 CASA volunteers advocate for abused and neglected children across the country.


Virginia CASA Statistics & History

  • 3233  children were served in 2022-23
  • ​1324 CASA volunteers provided advocacy in 2022-23
  • 124,669 volunteer advocacy hours were contributed, valued at $4,062,962

Source: Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Office of Programs, CASA Program, January 2024.

Virginia’s first CASA program began in 1985 in Roanoke and soon after the second program began in Norfolk. In 1990 the Virginia General Assembly enacted legislation providing for statewide implementation of the CASA program. The legislation assigned the responsibility for oversight of local programs as well as for development of statewide regulations to DCJS. The Regulations provide programs with standards to help ensure consistency in program development and service delivery; addressing several basic areas including screening, training and policy and procedure development for local programs. The regulations were revised in 2008.

Virginia CASA Programs

CASA programs are initiated, developed and operated at the local level with regulatory and oversight monitoring provided by DCJS. Currently, there are 27 operational CASA programs in Virginia. For more information about local programs, including volunteer opportunities, please visit

Role of the CASA Volunteer

The CASA legislation outlines five major duties of the CASA volunteer:

  • Investigate the circumstances of the case
  • Submit to the court a written report of the investigation
  • Monitor the case to ensure compliance with court orders
  • Assist the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) if one has been appointed
  • Report allegations of abuse or neglect to the Department of Social Services

Becoming a CASA Volunteer

CASA Program Resources

Contact Information

Grant Coordinator(s)

Melissa O'Neill
CASA Program Coordinator
(804) 786-6428

Grant Monitor(s)

Terry Willie-Surratt
CASA Grant Monitor and Quality Assurance Coordinator
(804) 225-4320