Dependency CASA Program
A Voice For Children
The Dependency CASA Program serves children up to 11 years old who have allegedly been abused and/or neglected. The process focuses on the best interests of the child. The court will try to reunite a family if conditions at home improve sufficiently.
A Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a trained volunteer who represents the best interests of children as they are taken through the legal process.
These trained volunteers:
- Investigate the case and inform the court
- Help identify resources to address a child's special needs
- Recommend temporary and permanent plans for the child
Process Designed To Act Quickly
Usually, a court orders the appointment of a CASA and the program attempts to quickly assign the case to an available volunteer.
The CASA talks with the child, parents, family members, social worker, school personnel, health care providers, foster parents and others who know about the child's situation. In addition, the CASA reviews relevant documentation and prepares periodic reports to the court as to findings and recommendations for the child. The CASA assignment continues until the child is returned home or finds another permanent home.
Volunteers are represented in court by program attorneys and assisted by paralegals and social work staff.
Each Court Appointed Special Advocate is screened, trained and supervised. They are equipped with a detailed training manual and must complete 28 hours of training before receiving a case. Volunteers also participate in ongoing training, study groups and recognition events and conferences.
Due to a shortage of volunteers, the program is currently able to assign a CASA in only about 60 percent of the dependency cases in King County.
The program is accredited by the National CASA Association, which conducts regular assessments, using 12 standards of compliance, and requires periodic reaccreditation. In addition, the program frequently solicits feedback from attorneys and the advocates they represent.
The Dependency CASA Program was created in 1976 by King County Superior Court Presiding Judge David W. Soukup, who was concerned over making decisions on cases of abused and neglected children without sufficient information. Judge Soukup conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of these children in court. This program was the first of its kind and has served as a national model for child abuse advocacy.
In 1977, the Children in Placement Committee of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) developed guidelines to help the juvenile justice system protect the child's right to a safe, permanent family. The committee coined the umbrella term "Court Appointed Special Advocate" - CASA - denoting any volunteer following a clearly defined role as a friend of the court.
Learn about CASA on King County TV. Watch: CASA: A Voice for Children.
Dependency CASA FAQs
For more information about CASA, visit these web sites:
To request an application:
Mail: Dependency CASA Program
King County Superior Court
1401 E. Jefferson, Suite 500
Seattle, WA 98122
Call: (206) 477-4245
Forms for CASA Volunteers (CASA Reports to Court).