Scott County Chamber of Commerce
CASA: ANNUAL CAMPAIGN 2020! The History of the CASA Program
The board of directors of CASA of Scott County, Inc. announces the launching of its 7th annual campaign in the month of September. This year’s campaign slogan is “RALLY FOR THE CHILDREN!” As an introduction to the campaign, the board will present a series of articles to remind the community about who CASA is and its mission as well as highlight why it continues to be important for the community to support its mission and the campaign.
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate and was first started in 1977 by Seattle Judge David W. Soukup, when he realized that abused and neglected children appearing in his court were often unintentionally re-victimized by overburdened courts and public social services. While lawyers typically represented the interests of the parent and the state, rarely did anyone speak exclusively for the child, who ultimately had the most at stake. Judge Soukup recruited and trained community volunteers to serve as guardians ad litem for those children entering the child welfare system to help fill this gap and better meet the needs of children.
The idea quickly caught on with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. In 1978 the Council adopted the model as one way to safeguard the rights and needs of the children. Volunteers who were being trained to gather relevant facts and to speak up for children in the courtroom came to be known as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers. CASA programs soon began to spring up nationwide. “From the first program has grown a network of nearly 950 CASA and guardian ad litem programs that are recruiting, training and supporting volunteers in 49 states and District of Columbia,” nationalcasagal.org.
In Indiana, there are CASA programs in 88 of the 92 counties. Scott County was a relative late comer to CASA. Scott County Judge Roger Duvall was instrumental in getting the program started here in 2007, and it was Judge Duvall who swore in the first class of 5 CASA volunteers on December 6, 2007. CASA is set up as a nonprofit, 501(c)3 corporation. The current board members include the following people: Julie Carter, President, Farrah Craig, Vice President, Lisa Pryor, Secretary, and Christa West, Treasurer. Other members of the board include Bunny South, Janie Alexander, Cort McGlothlin, Kitty Perkinson. The CASA staff includes 6 full time and one part time positions: executive director, Kelly Shelhamer and volunteer coordinators, Scott McDill and Lena Reynolds, recruiter/trainer Paula Kern, staff advocates Jennifer West and Debrah Martin, administrative assistant, Chantel Stutsman.
In order to continue to RALLY FOR THE CHILDREN, we have set our goal for the 2020 Annual Campaign at $30,000. This will help us maintain our current service to the children through volunteer recruitment and possible increase of staff until COVID-19 is more under control. A portion of this year’s Campaign will go to our Scott County Community Foundation Endowment Fund to build a source to help maintain CASA of Scott County financially in the future. Please help us reach our goal by supporting the 2020 ANNUAL CASA CAMPAIGN, which officially kicks off on September 1, 2020. Call CASA director, Kelly Shelhamer at 812-752-4748 to volunteer or donate. Tax deductible donations can be mailed to CASA of Scott County, Inc. at 36 Forrest Ave., Scottsburg, IN 47170.
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