"Court Appointed Special Advocates, CASAs, are volunteers that work through the courts and with child protection agencies to ensure that each child to whom they are assigned receives rehabilitative services, medical care, educational assistance, and most importantly placement in a permanent loving home. The advocacy and dedication of CASA volunteers literally change the lives of the abused and neglected children they serve." -Marty Braniff, author of "Step Over Rio" and nationally known speaker and advocate on behalf of children who have been abused and neglected, including those who are victims of human trafficking.
The Mission of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is to recruit, train and support community volunteers who advocate for the wellbeing and best interests of abused and neglected children in the foster care system throughout Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties in northern NM.
Nationally, CASA was formed in 1977 when a Seattle judge, concerned over making decisions about abused and neglected children’s lives without sufficient information, conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of these children in court. So successful was this program that soon judges across the country began utilizing citizen advocates. In 1990, the U.S. Congress encouraged the expansion of CASA with passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act. Today there are more than 950 independent CASA programs with more than 58,000 trained men and women serving as CASA volunteers for 225,000 children.
Locally, CASA, First Judicial District (CASA, FJD) has served foster children in three northern New Mexico counties - Santa Fe, Rio Arriba, and Los Alamos since 1995. We are active members of the National CASA Association, and the New Mexico CASA Network. Today we support over 30 CASA volunteers who advocate for approximately 90 abused and neglected children every year to help them reach safe and permanent homes.