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 Association was founded in 1982, and provides technical assistance and national leadership to local programs across the country. The CASA concept is endorsed by American Bar Association, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators. There are nearly 1,000 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. Over 251,000 children’s lives have been impacted by an estimated 76,000 CASA volunteers. 


Virginia CASA Statistics & History

  • 6,792 victims were in complaints with founded dispositions
  • 33,736 victims were in complaints that received a Family Assessment through the Family Assessment Track
  • 4,191 children were served by a CASA volunteer in 2013-14
  • 1,494 CASA volunteers provided advocacy in 2013-14
  • 126,129 volunteer advocacy hours were contributed, valued at $3,107,818 in 2013-2014

Source: Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Office of Programs, CASA Program, March 2016.

Virginia’s first CASA program began in 1986 in Newport News. 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.View our map of CASA programs in the state.

Virginia CASA Web Sites

Some of the CASA Programs in Virginia have websites you may be interested in visiting:

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)
Lynn Sivels
(804) 225-1847
Grant Monitor(s)
Melissa O'Neill
(804) 786-6428
DCJS Grants Administration
1100 Bank Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Phone: 804.786.4000
Fax: 804.786.7231