The first volunteer guardian ad litem program serving abused and neglected children was organized in 1977 in King County, Seattle, Washington. In the following years, word of the success of the King County Program spread like wildfire and similar programs were begun across the United States.
Because some statutes required the guardian ad litem to be an attorney, the term CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) was coined to denote volunteers from the local community who had been thoroughly screened and trained to serve as advocates for children involved in Court proceedings.
In 1982, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, Inc. (NCASAA) was established to serve as an umbrella organization for the growing number of programs across the country. NCASAA provides information networks, technical assistance, research, training and hosts an annual national conference. Membership in NCASAA is open to programs and individuals throughout the United States.
By the end of 2014, 949 CASA/GAL programs existed across the country. Over half (61%) of the programs are independent non-profit organizations; 16% are part of a non-profit umbrella agency; 21% are part of a state or county agency; and 2% have some other administrative structure.
Some 76,327 men and women, CASA volunteers, provided 6 million hours to making a lifelong difference in the lives of an estimated 251,165 abused/neglected children.