Mission: Giving a voice to children, under the protection of the Juvenile Court, seeking safety and permanency.
Vision: To continue to give a voice to abused children within the juvenile court system and become the local leader in advocacy by recruiting volunteers and educating the public as to the scope and availability of the services for the protection of children.
We are called to help individually and in our own way, but together, we can make a difference in a child's life.
In December of 2002, Warren County Children and Youth Services presented information about CASA to the Child Abuse Prevention Committee of Warren (CAP), a partnership of many community agencies committed to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. After forming an initial steering committee, hearing a presentation by Pennsylvania CASA Association, and visiting outlying CASA programs in other parts of the state, CAP became energized about the concept of initiating a CASA program in Warren and Forest Counties. In August 2003, the CAP steering committee expanded its membership to form the CASA Task Force and a business plan was developed.
Members of the CASA Task Force included: Directors of Children and Youth from Forest and Warren Counties, the Director of the Jefferson DeFrees Family Center, the Courts Guardian ad Litem, and President Judge and several concerned citizens from both Warren and Forest Counties.
In May 2003, the Jefferson DeFrees Family Center agreed to serve as the start-up site for CASA of Warren and Forest Counties. CASA has received a non-profit status under the umbrella of the Jefferson DeFrees Family Center tax-exempt status. For 15 years, Lisa Thompson served as Director, she was hired in May 2004 and the inaugural class of CASA volunteers were sworn in November 2004. Lisa was instrumental in the development of CASA of Warren and Forest Counties.
In January 2020, Melissa Sproveri was hired and sworn in as the new Director of CASA of Warren and Forest Counties, which is one of 21 local CASA programs in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Court Appointed Special Advocates Association (PA CASA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 to grow, strengthen, and unite local CASA programs so they can ensure the safety, well-being, and forever home for every abused and/or neglected child in Pennsylvania. To fulfill its mission, PA CASA supports the existing network of local CASA programs, builds new CASA programs and secures resources critical to CASA’s mission. Currently, PA CASA provides training, technical assistance, and continuous quality improvement services to the 21 local CASA programs serving 27 counties. In the remaining 40 counties, PA CASA actively pursues program development. Through statewide advocacy, PA CASA provides resources that make it easier for CASA programs to serve children. PA CASA’s vision is for every abused and/or neglected child in Pennsylvania to have access to the service and support of a CASA volunteer.
For additional information, please refer to the PA CASA website.
Judge Soukup, a Juvenile Court Judge, watched as many parties entered and exited the juvenile dependency courtroom, but he never heard anyone speak strictly on behalf of the child. Inspiration came when Judge Soukup had insufficient information to make a life-changing decision for a 3-year-old girl who had suffered from child abuse. Judge Soukup’s idea of training volunteers to speak up in the courtroom on behalf of a child’s best interests came to fruition in 1977. The first CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program was established in Seattle (King County), Washington, and was endorsed as a model for safeguarding a child’s rights to a safe and permanent family by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. As the program model continued to grow and develop in other states, the National CASA Association was formed in Seattle in 1984. Currently, there are nearly 1,000 CASA programs throughout the United States. The CASA/GAL network has reached over 2 million children since National CASA/GAL’s inception.
The National CASA/GAL Association, together with state and local member programs, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every child who has experienced abuse or neglect can be safe, have a permanent home, and the opportunity to thrive.
For additional information, please refer to the National CASA/GAL website.