Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a national program founded in 1977 in Seattle, Washington by Judge David Soukoup. Soukoup conceived the idea of using trained community volunteers to speak for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court. So successful was this program, that soon judges across the country began utilizing citizen advocates. In 1990, the US Congress encouraged the expansion of CASA programs with passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act.
CASA of Hampden County was started in 1989 by Juvenile Court Judge Rebekah Crampton-Kamukala. Crampton-Kamukala first heard about CASA shortly after she was sworn in as a judge in 1986. She had worked as an attorney in juvenile court and had seen her share of Care and Protection cases and the heartbreak they often entail. Impressed with the work CASAs do in advocating for children, she was determined to bring the program to Western Massachusetts.
In 1987, Crampton-Kamukala brought together community leaders and agency representatives throughout Springfield. It took almost a year to get a $5,000 grant to fund the CASA program in Springfield and get the first director appointed. But the program was off and running. In 2000, CASA of Hampden County joined the Center for Human Development, Inc.
CASA of Hampden County is funded through the Trial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We serve the Juvenile Courts in Springfield and Holyoke.
There following counties in the Commonwealth also have CASA programs: Suffolk (Boston), Worcester, Northern Essex, and Hampshire/Franklin.
We remain extremely grateful to Judge Crampton-Kamukala for her dedication and foresight in bringing CASA to Hampden County.
Learn more about the national CASA program click here: www.casaforchildren.org