WELCOME TO CASA HAWAII
CASA is the only volunteer program that empowers everyday citizens as officers of the court. In an overburdened social welfare system, abused and neglected children often slip through the cracks among hundreds of current cases. CASA volunteers change that. Appointed by Family Court judges, CASA volunteers typically handle one case at a time and commit to staying on that case until the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.
WHO BENEFIT FROM OUR PROGRAMS?
The abused and neglected children of Hawaii are the beneficiaries of our programs.
TOO MANY CHILDREN IN HAWAII LIVE IN FEAR.
They live in fear of what their father or mother might do to them. The fear of being totally alone, neglected and never having a placed to call home. As a Court Appointed Special Advocate, you will serve as a powerful voice for a child in court, and act as an advocate for a child who otherwise is lost and does not have a voice.
ADVOCACY FOR CHILDREN
In 2012, there were more 1400 confirmed cases of abuse & neglect of children in Hawaii.
In 2012, there were more 1400 confirmed cases of abuse and neglect of children in Hawaii. Most of these abused and neglected children were placed in foster care because they are unable to live safely at home.
Imagine what it would be like to lose your parents, not because of something you did, but because they cannot or will not take care of you. Now, into these children’s lives come dozens of strangers, police, foster parents, therapists, social workers, judges, lawyers and more. Hopefully, one of these individuals is a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
For abused and neglected children. CASA volunteers watch over and advocate for these children to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal system or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home. They stay with each case until it is closed, and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence — the one adult who sole purpose is to advocate for that child.
Every day, CASA volunteers throughout Hawaii help children replace their world of fear with one of hope. Our volunteers are everyday people. They are teachers, retirees, stockbrokers, construction workers and stay-at-home parents. The only special background or equipment they need is a heart to care for some of the most vulnerable children in our community, and the determination to do something about it. They have the power to change children’s lives.
Last year, over 200 volunteers here in Hawaii helped many of these children find safe, permanent homes and the opportunity for better lives.
The CASA Hawaii programs, on all islands, recruit and train community volunteers to advocate for children in court, helping them to find loving homes. Through the work of these extraordinary individuals, these vulnerable children find safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible. These children have been given a second chance for a positive future. But there are still many children in Hawaii in need of a CASA volunteer.
SERVING OVER 3,500 CHILDREN IN HAWAII
Hawaii’s Volunteer Guardian ad Litem (also known as CASA) program was launched in 1984. The program began with 7 volunteers that were representing 13 children. In the past 30 years, CASA trained by Hawaii program offices have served over 3,500 children. The State of Hawaii has county program offices on Oahu, Maui (which includes Molokai and Lanai) and Kauai.
MESSAGE FROM SENIOR FAMILY COURT JUDGE THE HONORABLE
– R. MARK BROWNING
“…As the senior Judge of our Court, I want to tell you how appreciative I am of the love, the kindness, and the compassion you give to our children. I celebrate your commitment and dedication…Your role in our courtroom as the voice of our children, is vital to the judge’s decision making. AS CASA’s you fulfill a need for our children to have a voice; to be empowered to ask questions, to state their needs and to report wrongdoings.”
“…You are light that shines for our children; that provides clarity to confusion; that helps them to believe in their self-worth again and the possibilities of love.
Yours is not an easy task. It is often daunting and overwhelming. But it is a task that makes a difference. So again I celebrate each of you and I give thanks for your services-for your “heart full of grace and your “soul generated by love.” It is this truth that defines us as a community.
THE CASA NATIONAL MOVEMENT
HOW CASA GOT STARTED
In 1976, Superior Court Judge David Soukup of Seattle, WA, saw a recurring problem in his courtroom. “In criminal and civil cases, even though there were always many different points of view, you walked out of the courthouse at the end of the day and you said, ‘I’ve done my best – I can live with this decision,’ he explains.
“But when you’re involved with a child and you’re trying to decide what to do to facilitate that child’s growth into a mature and happy adult, you don’t feel like you have sufficient information to allow you to make the right decision. You can’t walk away and leave them at the courthouse at 4 o’clock. You wonder, ‘Do I really know everything I should? Have I really been told all of the different things? Is this really right?”
To ensure he was getting all the facts and the long-term welfare of each child was being represented, the Seattle judge came up with an idea that would change America’s judicial procedure and the lives of over a million children. He obtained funding to recruit and train community volunteers to step into courtrooms on behalf of the children – Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers.
This unique concept was implemented in Seattle as a pilot program in January 1977. During that first year, the program provided 110 trained CASA volunteers for 498 children in 376 dependency cases.
By 1982, it was clear that a national association was needed to direct CASA’s emerging national presence. The National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association was formed that year.
By 1984, the National CASA Association received financial support from several significant sources including 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; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.
National CASA also receives support from the Kappa Alpha Theta Foundation. This international women’s fraternity selected CASA as its philanthropy and has provided funds for a variety of projects, including start-up grants and a public awareness video.
The Association opened its national headquarters office in Seattle, Washington, in the summer of 1984, and launched a membership and fundraising drive.
Today the National CASA Association represents 930 CASA programs across the country. National CASA provides support for starting programs, technical assistance, training, and fundraising, media, and public awareness services.