Why is CASA needed in Caroline County?
In 2003, over 300 cases of abuse or neglect were investigated by the Department of Social Services, and approximately 50 children were in foster care at the end of that year. Each child that was removed from their parents’ home was involved in a lengthy court process, which is often scary and confusing for the child. Just imagine how terrible that would be. Having a CASA volunteer available to work with all the parties involved can provide stability in the child’s life during this difficult time.
CASA of Caroline was started by a group of concerned citizens who recognized the need for someone to watch out for the best interest of foster care children in 2003. Spearheaded by then Circuit Court Judge J. Owen Wise, who had seen firsthand the positive results of CASA advocacy, CASA of Caroline became operational in September 2003. Many members of the original group became members of the Board of Directors. They remain committed to assuring that abused and neglected children are heard and provided with one consistent presence in their lives, a CASA advocate.
In 1977, A Seattle Superior Court Judge, David Soukup often felt that he did not have enough information about the unique circumstances of each abused or neglected child that he saw in his courtroom. He felt that without adequate information he could not make the crucial decisions that would have lifelong impact on their young lives.He came up with the idea of training community volunteers to get to know these children and report back to him what they learned so he could make more informed decisions about their futures. He put the word out and fifty citizens answered the call. These individuals became the first Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASA volunteers, and the first CASA program was born.
Judge Soukup’s idea has become a nationwide movement. Last year, more than 70,900 CASA volunteers served over 237,000 abused and neglected children through 1,055 local offices.Since the establishment of the first program, CASA volunteers have assisted more than two million children. CASA of Caroline County is one of the nineteen CASA programs serving jurisdictions in Maryland. There are over 6,000 children from throughout Maryland who are living in temporary foster care.