Gov. Doug Ducey has proclaimed October 2020 as Court Appointed Special Advocate Month in Arizona. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) have been standing up for children in Arizona’s foster care system for 35 years.

The CASA program began in Seattle in 1977 when juvenile court judge David Soukup decided he needed an unbiased source to help guide him in juvenile cases. Pima County started the second program in the nation in 1979, and CASA of Arizona was formed in October 1985. The Arizona Legislature passed a bill in 1991 that allowed CASA of Arizona to have 30% of unclaimed lottery winnings. The funding mechanism allowed CASA of Arizona to open a CASA program in all of Arizona’s 15 counties.

Child abuse statistics

• In fiscal year 2020, the statewide Child Abuse Hotline received 155,905 calls.

• Neglect is the most common form of child abuse, followed by physical abuse.

• Most children who are in out-of-home care in Arizona (44.6%) are ages 0 to 5.

CASA Volunteers

• Volunteers must be at least 21 years old.

• Volunteers go through a rigorous screening process including interviews, reference check, a fingerprint check, child welfare history check, and a polygraph exam.

• Volunteers are asked to make a commitment to one case until its conclusion, typically involving 15-20 hours per month.

• Volunteers must complete 30 hours of pre-service training.

• CASA volunteers build a 360-degree view of the child and his or her surroundings. To do this, they meet with teachers, counselors, physicians, caretakers, etc.

• CASA volunteers work to ensure that children are in safe, permanent homes where they can thrive.

To learn more about becoming a CASA in Gila County, call 928-474-7145, email pdremler@courts.az.gov or CASAofGilaCounty.org.

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