History of CASA

1977 – the CASA model is created

The Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) model began in 1977 when a Seattle juvenile court judge concerned about making drastic decisions with insufficient information conceived the idea of citizen volunteers speaking up for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom. From that first program has grown a network of nearly 1,000 CASA and guardian ad litem programs that are recruiting, training and supporting volunteers in 49 states and the District of Columbia.

1982 – Boston CASA is formed

Boston CASA was started in 1982 under the jurisdiction of the Court by Judge Francis G. Poitrast, Chief Justice of the Juvenile Court Department of the Commonwealth and Presiding Judge of the Boston Division, out of concern with the need for permanency for court-involved children.

Since that time, volunteers from the community have given their time to advocate for abused and neglected children. The basic goal of the CASA/GAL volunteer is to ensure that child victims of abuse and neglect are not overlooked in an overcrowded court system. CASA volunteers are appointed by the Judge as Guardian ad Litems for “Best Interest”.

Our CASAs connect to the stakeholders in the child’s life and present relevant facts at court hearings to help ensure they receive all appropriate services and the best outcome in court. Boston CASA uses a 1:1 model. After a 35-hour training, volunteers take on a single case, working with one child or one sibling group. The CASA will stay with that case until it is closed in court.

2012 – we become an independent non-profit

Since 2012, Boston CASA has operated as an autonomous non-profit. We started with a staff of one, our founding Executive Director Charles Lerner, and have increased to a staff of more than 10. We’ve grown greatly and recruit and train more CASAs and serve more children and teens every year.

2014 – the TAY program begins

In 2014, Boston CASA launched our Transition Age Youth Advocacy Program which focuses on young adults in the Suffolk & Middlesex Counties who, for a variety of factors, are unable to reunite with their families or be adopted. Instead, these youth age out of the foster care system as young adults without a consistent adult figure in their lives and without a plan to move forward into adulthood. Transition Age Youth Advocacy Program will empower youth to make informed decisions about their futures.