In 1977, a Seattle judge, worried about poor decisions being made on behalf of at-risk children, put out a request for community volunteers willing to provide advocacy and support for these children in court. 50 people responded, creating the organization Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).
Here in Colorado Springs, studies conducted in the 1980s revealed abused and neglected children living in El Paso and Teller counties lacked adequate representation and advocacy in the legal system. CASA’s volunteer-driven advocacy was identified as the best means to alleviate this troubling trend. In 1989, with start-up funding from El Pomar Foundation and The Junior League, CASA of the Pikes Peak Region was formed and began recruiting and training volunteers to advocate for children experiencing abuse, neglect, or domestic conflict. CASA advocates represent the best interests of children by attending court hearings, communicating with lawyers and social workers, and ensuring that each child ends up in a loving home able to provide the consistent support needed for future success.
Today, CASA of the Pikes Peak Region will celebrate its 25th anniversary. Since forming as a local chapter, CASA of the Pikes Peak Region has helped over 10,000 children receive the support they need to overcome abuse and extreme domestic conflict.
Despite all of the organization’s successes, challenges still remain. In The Gazette, executive director Trudy Strewler Hodges states that only half of the 1,000 neglected and abused children eligible to receive an advocate actually receives one. The organization hopes to shrink this gap by 2020, in addition to continuing to combat high levels of child abuse in the region.
While the challenges ahead are significant, CASA of the Pikes Peak Region has provided our community with 25 years of life-changing impact. Thank you to all of the staff, volunteers, and supporters of the organization for making such a positive difference in our community.
To learn more about CASA of the Pikes Peak Region, visit their website.