Mission: To ensure that every child has a safe, supportive and permanent home through community education and by providing court-appointed volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children within the court system.
When a community of caring people come together, just about anything is possible!
CASA of Venango County
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Venango County Inc. celebrates its 16th year in 2021 as a powerful voice for children throughout the community. CASA's main role is to ensure children who are experiencing any form of abuse or neglect can be placed in safe and permanent homes where their most basic needs can be met and they can thrive. The program is a unique blend of private support, public need and the efforts from 10 volunteers all committed to the rights of every child.CASA was spearheaded in 2005 President Judge H. William White set out to find a reliable resource to help advocate for children in his courtroom. He worked to develop a volunteer network and to seek funding for the program. In 2006 Cinnamon Evans, who was serving as a CASA volunteer, was hired as the organization's executive director. Since then the organization has flourished as a leader in child advocacy efforts throughout Venango County.
Today, President Judge Oliver J. Lobaugh oversees the CASA program in Venango County, and visits many courthouses across the state to speak about CASA's best practices and how it's improved the court's relationship with the children they seek to help as well as their families.
Judge Lobaugh says, "There is a real need for children, who are victims of child abuse and neglect, to have a voice in the life-altering decisions being made about them in the court room. CASA gives them that voice."
Lobaugh provides direction for the program working with staff and volunteers to create an environment for the children that fosters success. There is a 9-11-person Board of Directors who oversee the operations of the CASA program.
The Pennsylvania Court Appointed Special Advocates Association (PA CASA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 to grow, strengthen, and unite local CASA programs so they can ensure the safety, well-being, and forever home for every abused and/or neglected child in Pennsylvania. To fulfill its mission, PA CASA supports the existing network of local CASA programs, builds new CASA programs and secures resources critical to CASA’s mission. Currently, PA CASA provides training, technical assistance, and continuous quality improvement services to the 21 local CASA programs serving 27 counties. In the remaining 40 counties, PA CASA actively pursues program development. Through statewide advocacy, PA CASA provides resources that make it easier for CASA programs to serve children. PA CASA’s vision is for every abused and/or neglected child in Pennsylvania to have access to the service and support of a CASA volunteer.
For additional information, please refer to the PA CASA website.
Judge Soukup, a Juvenile Court Judge, watched as many parties entered and exited the juvenile dependency courtroom, but he never heard anyone speak strictly on behalf of the child. Inspiration came when Judge Soukup had insufficient information to make a life-changing decision for a 3-year-old girl who had suffered from child abuse. Judge Soukup’s idea of training volunteers to speak up in the courtroom on behalf of a child’s best interests came to fruition in 1977. The first CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) program was established in Seattle (King County), Washington, and was endorsed as a model for safeguarding a child’s rights to a safe and permanent family by the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. As the program model continued to grow and develop in other states, the National CASA Association was formed in Seattle in 1984. Currently, there are nearly 1,000 CASA programs throughout the United States. The CASA/GAL network has reached over 2 million children since National CASA/GAL’s inception.
The National CASA/GAL Association, together with state and local member programs, supports and promotes court-appointed volunteer advocacy so every child who has experienced abuse or neglect can be safe, have a permanent home, and the opportunity to thrive.
For additional information, please refer to the National CASA/GAL website.