Advocates for Children has been working with children in the community for over 30 years.
The CASA program began with a family court judge in Seattle in 1977.
The judge, dissatisfied by the way the system worked when it came to the best interests of children, requested that a group of community volunteers called Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) be recruited and trained to provide children with a voice in court.
The success of this pilot program quickly garnered national attention, and in 1982 led to the formation of the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, whose goal was to extend the reach of the CASA program into every state in the nation.
- By 1984, the National CASA Association had received financial support from several significant sources: a grant from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, under the direction of the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; and two one-year grants from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.
- On April 22, 1985, President Ronald Reagan presented the National CASA Association with the President’s Volunteer Action Award for “outstanding volunteer contribution, demonstrating accomplishment through voluntary action.”
- National CASA has also received support from the Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation since 1989. This international women’s sorority selected CASA as its philanthropy and has provided funds for a variety of projects, including start-up grants and a public awareness video.
- In August of 1989, the American Bar Association, the country’s largest professional organization of attorneys, officially endorsed the use of CASA volunteers to work with attorneys to speak up for abused and neglected children.
- In July of 1990, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges named CASA “Outstanding Volunteer Program” in America’s juvenile and family courts.
- Also in 1990, the U.S. Congress authorized the expansion of CASA with the passage of the “Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990” (P.L. 101-647), so that a “Court Appointed Special Advocate shall be available to every victim of child abuse or neglect in the United States that needs an advocate.”
- In July of 1991, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice, named CASA an “Exemplary Program in Juvenile Delinquency Prevention.”
- In 1992, Congress initiated funding of a grants program to expand CASA representation of abused and neglected children.
In 1996, Colorado Senate Bill 96-30 was signed into law. This legislation, now part of the Colorado Children’s Code (Sections 19-1-201 through 19-1-212), includes the following: a description of the role of a CASA volunteer; authorization for CASA volunteers and agencies to work in various types of cases; authorization for judicial districts to set up CASA programs; and the mandate for a cooperative relationship between the CASA volunteer and the Guardian Ad Litem attorney. Colorado was the 33rd state to pass such legislation.
History of Advocates For Children
The flourishing organization we know today as Advocates for Children first took root in 1985. That’s when Ann Ogg and the Junior League of Denver conceived of a three year project that would recruit and train CASA volunteers to work with Guardians Ad Litem in Arapahoe County. The program, then called the Guardians Ad Litem Project of Arapahoe County, operated on a budget of about $75,000 and comprised of 50 volunteers and a single, part-time employee.
The Junior League of Denver recruited the first Board of Directors to oversee the project. They also offered funding and technical assistance in marketing, public relations, and promotional materials. They helped conduct the first training class and volunteer recognition events. In 1988, the Junior League gracefully relinquished its role in managing the agency, leaving control in the capable hands of the Board of Directors.
In 1989, two part-time staff members were brought on board to handle volunteer training and management, fundraising, and public relations. The first full-time executive director was hired in 1991.
In 1988, the organization’s name was changed to Arapahoe Advocates for Children. In 2000, the name changed again simply to Advocates for Children, in response to the agency’s growing reach throughout the 18th Judicial District, with representation in Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln Counties.
What began as a small 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with one part-time employee has now grown into a thriving organization with a staff of eighteen. The staff oversees the efforts of the roughly 300 active volunteers each year. These 300 volunteers serve over 800 children annually, contributing a total of more than 25,000 volunteer hours to the community.