CASA of Polk County, Inc. is a dedicated organization which strives to recruit, train, and support CASAs, a network of competent volunteer advocates who are committed to the best interests of the child.
CASA OF POLK COUNTY HISTORY
The CASA program mandated by Oregon law shall provide a court appointed special advocate deemed to be a party to court proceedings.
In response to this mandate and evidence that shows the effectiveness of the CASA model, CASA aims to provide a volunteer for every child who comes into foster care through the legal system of Polk County. Children in the judicial dependency system, those who we are currently able to serve & those we are not.
All children in both urban and rural areas of Polk County are served by our organization. The CASA program was housed under the jurisdiction of the Polk County District Attorney Department from 1989 to 2015. In 2004, Friends of Polk County CASA was established and became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. This entity operated solely as a fundraiser to support the CASA program for recruiting and training volunteers. On July 1, 2015, the non-profit organization’s name was changed to CASA of Polk County, Inc. and became an independent organization governed by a Board of Directors; all of whom are volunteers.
In 1977, Judge David Soukup of Seattle, Washington realized that there was no one in the courtroom whose only job was to provide a voice for the child. He was consumed by the fact that very little information was provided about the child and didn’t know if he was doing the best job he could. He believed that volunteers properly trained could speak for the children and give judges better insight into the facts pertaining to the child. Through his efforts the first volunteer guardian “ad item” program was established, which later became known as CASA.
The core components of Judge Soukup’s pilot program are essentially the same today. Judges appoint selected, well -trained volunteers to represent the best interests of children in court. CASA volunteers typically handle just one or two cases at a time so they can provide in-depth, first-hand documented information to judges, attorneys, and social workers to assist in sound decision making.
Oregon CASA Network
Oregon CASA Network, an affiliate of the National CASA/GAL Association for Children, is the statewide organization supporting Oregon’s 20 local CASA programs. The local programs recruit, screen, train, and support CASA volunteers. Oregon CASA Network's mission is to lead Oregon’s local CASA programs to provide a strong voice for every abused and neglected child statewide. We do this by: • Promoting awareness of Oregon’s CASA programs, CASA volunteers, and children who have experienced abuse or neglect. • Supporting local program offices (capacity building, training, technical assistance, collaboration, pass-through funding).
Program Volunteer Manager
Program Administrative Assistant
Vice Governing Chair
Jennifer Von Derahe
Vice Financial Chair