The History of CASA - Court Appointed Special Advocates
In 1977, a Seattle juvenile court judge concerned about making drastic decisions with insufficient information conceived the idea of citizen volunteers speaking up for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom. From that first program has grown a network of nearly 1,000 CASA and guardian ad litem programs that are recruiting, training and supporting volunteers in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
The strategic objectives of CASA are as follows:
The History of Our Program
The initial development of CASA of Stanislaus County was encouraged by Judges Marie Silveira and William Mayhew in 2002. The Superior Court CEO, Mike Tozzi, (along with Judges Silveira and Mayhew) became champions for the development our program and with the cooperation and support of all of the Judges helped recruit and develop our initial Board of Directors.
Led by our first Board President, Dave Halvorsen, the following individuals (with Dave) comprised our initial Board of Directors:
Sylvester Aguilar, Marla Arata, Carrie Cardoza, Wendell Chun, Lillie Clark, Denise Davis, Laura Evnin, Mark Goldberg, Tim Joslyn, Emily Kelley, Christopher Neall, Larry Poaster, Dr. Donald Strangio, the Honorable Marie Silveira, Lona Stonebreaker, Mike Tozzi, Jan Viss and Nancy Williamsen.
With that, funding streams and volunteer recruitment began, and the first class of CASA advocates was sworn in September of 2003. From that initial group of volunteer advocates, the incomparable Jerry Rhine has been, and is still, an advocate today.
The next five years saw our program serve a total of 86 children over that period of time, On April 1, 2008 our current Executive Director was hired. At the time of his hire, we had 8 advocates serving 13 children. Over the course of the next three years, our team (which included then Case Manager Cindy Julsgard - another graduate of our first recruitment class - worked tirelessly to expand and improve our program. As a result of their efforts, the commitment of our advocates and our Board of Directors (led by Catherine Hallinan and Susan Azevedo), our program grew and grew and grew.
By June of 2011, we were serving 100 children a year - outnumbering the TOTAL amount served by our program in our first 6 years combined! In our 2016-2017 fiscal year, we served 222 children - more than doubling the number of children served in our 2010-2011 fiscal year.
Our program's growth and stability is due to the commitment of our more than 100 advocates, our exceptional staff, our very committed Board of Directors and those of you who have supported our program financially and so many other ways. Our goal remains to serve every single one of the more than 700 to 800 children in care at any given time. With your continued support - and our continued commitment - we will reach our goal.