Court Appointed Special Advocates ("CASA") of Ventura County believes that every court-dependent abused or neglected child should be safe, have permanence and the opportunity to thrive, and have a strong, compassionate volunteer Advocate.
History of the CASA Program:
CASA originated in Washington State in 1977. In 1983, a Ventura County public defender brought the concept of CASA to the attention of the Dependency Court. The Judge presiding over the Court was fully aware of the growing need for "a consistent adult to look out for the best interest of an individual child." Concern was mounting over the frequent changes of caregivers and service providers that were involved in foster children's lives, as well as the negative impact of these changes on them. The Court began to lay the groundwork for the Court Appointed Special Advocates program in Ventura County. When the program first began, responsibility for training and administration was left to the court, however the recruiting of volunteers required the cooperation of other entities.
In 1985 CASA of Ventura County was established, and the first Ventura County CASAs (Court Appointed Special Advocates) were sworn in as officers of the court. Once underway, the Children's Home Society in Ventura became the "umbrella" organization for CASA. National CASA provided some financial support, and offices were located at the Court House at the Ventura Government Center. The first program manager was hired.
CASA continued to grow by training more Advocates and serving more of Ventura County's children. In 1991 there was a need for increased funding and administrative space. When the Children's Home Society could no longer accommodate CASA's growth, the organization CAAN (Child Abuse and Neglect) took CASA under the CAAN umbrella. It also provided increased administrative support in the form of a case manager.
In 1997 CAAN became a program of Interface Children Family Services in Camarillo, and so did CASA of Ventura County. During its years at Interface, CASA continued to grow, and it also established its first Advisory Board and Fundraising Council.
In 2011, with a full-time training coordinator, a part-time case manager and a cadre of dedicated volunteers, CASA emerged from under the umbrella of Interface and became a fully independent, 501(c)(3) organization. Two Board members served as volunteer co-Executive Directors in the first year. Funding was provided by local foundations, service clubs and organizations. A group called "Friends of CASA" was established to organize fundraising events and do outreach to local service groups.