In 1974, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) mandated the appointment of a guardian ad litem in child abuse and neglect cases; it was no longer up to the judge’s discretion.
Judge David Soukup (Juvenile Court, King County, and Seattle, Washington) was dissatisfied with the same case plans and same recommendations for child after child; he believed more individualized attention would produce better outcomes. Judge Soukup solicited ideas for system improvement from court staff. Out of these ideas evolved the idea for community volunteers to act as child advocates.
The Volunteer Guardian ad litem Program began in King County in 1977. The guardian ad litem did not have to be an attorney. The program recruited volunteers from the community and provided training and support. Similar programs were developed in other states/localities as judges spread word of the concept.
The National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (National CASA) was created in 1982 to support volunteer child advocate programs and increase the number of volunteer child advocates nationwide.
Hallmarks of a CASA/GAL volunteer program include:
The National CASA Association, together with its state and local members, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy for abused and neglected children so that they can thrive in safe, permanent homes.
National CASA standards describe the major criteria the CASA/GAL volunteer must meet. The following statements describe the CASA/GAL volunteer: