CASA Court Appointed Special Advocates

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a national program founded in 1977 by Judge David Soukoup in Seattle, WA, who conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court. In 1990, Congress encouraged the expansion of CASA programs with passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act.

Essex County CASA is a program of Family Services of Merrimack Valley, and is a member of and is funded by the National CASA/GAL Association.  The program recruits, trains and supervises volunteers from the community in abuse/neglect cases in the Lawrence, Newburyport, Salem, and the Lynn Juvenile Courts to:

  • Meet with the child at least monthly,
  • meet with and gather information from everyone who touches the child’s life: the parents, foster parents, teachers, therapists, DCF Social Workers, residential clinicians, guidance counselors, daycare providers, doctors, dentists, etc.,
  • advocate for the best interest of the child, and
  • put all of this information into a court report for each hearing.

This typically requires about 15 hours per month of volunteer time, and we ask CASAs to stay on their case until it is finished–an average of 18 months. So, this is not your typical volunteer gig!  All CASAs must complete a 30-hour training over a period of 5-6 weeks.

For more information about volunteering with CASA, please complete the information below: