Who We Are
An instance of child abuse occurs in the United States every 10
seconds. Four children die as a result of child abuse in this country daily. Three of those
children will be under the age of 4. Over 500,00 children are in foster care at any given
In our own area, the 32nd and 33rd Judicial Circuits of Missouri which includes Bollinger, Cape Girardeau,
Mississippi, Perry and Scott counties, over 610 children are currently in foster care due to child
abuse and neglect. These children are innocent victims who need a voice in the system. Each of
these children will end up in court and a judge will decide their future. A Voices for Children/CASA
volunteer can speak on behalf of the child and provide the Court with additional information to allow them
to make the most informed decision possible as to what is in the best interest of the child.
Voices for Children/CASA volunteers are just that: voices for children who are in the system. Their role is
vital to the future of foster children in our community. They investigate cases, facilitate the delivery of
services to the child and family, advocate on behalf of the child to the Court, and monitor the progression
of the case until it is resolved. Voices/CASA volunteers work with a team of professionals to expedite a
safe, permanent placement for each child, and to ensure that the system fulfills its’ responsibilities to
There are no easy answers, and each of these cases takes time and effort to work through the legal system.
With the assistance of a trained CASA volunteer, each child spends an average of a year less in the system.
Our program provides trained community volunteers who are willing to invest time to make a difference in a
child’s life. The challenge we face is that we need more volunteers who are willing to advocate for a child,
to serve as their voice and in return to receive a challenging, and rewarding opportunity to help a child to
have a more promising future!
History of CASA of Southeast
In the Fall of 1991, due to concerns over the plight of abused and neglected children in our area,
several concerned individuals met with the Honorable Stephen N. Limbaugh, Jr., Circuit Court Judge and
Juvenile Court Judge of the 32nd Judicial Circuit for the purpose of soliciting the Court’s support for
the development and implementation of a local CASA program. A Board of Directors composed of nine
individuals who had a long standing history of being involved in working with abused and neglected
children and included, among others, representatives from the judiciary, local police department,
Juvenile Office, local counseling providers, and the Department of Family Services. Out of this effort,
CASA of Southeast Missouri, Inc., was formed and began training volunteers in April of 1992.
Five volunteers were sworn in on July 17, 1992. At that time, staff consisted of an unpaid CASA
volunteer supervisor and the budget was $5,000. By the summer of 1993, CASA had eight trained volunteers
and a part-time Volunteer Coordinator serving the children of Southeast Missouri. CASA was incorporated
in October 1991 and was awarded nonprofit (501 [c] ) status in July 1993. Since that time the CASA
program has grown and in 2015 77 children were served by 33 volunteers.
In 2016 the program has re-branded as Voices for Children/CASA to more effectively represent the role
of the program to the community. With the continued assistance of VOCA funding we have also added a
second volunteer coordinator which will allow us to double both the number of advocates and the number
of children we are able to serve.
September 3, 2019 the program expanded into the 33rd Judicial Circuit of Missouri which includes
Mississippi and Scott counties.
History of the National CASA
The CASA program was established by family court Judge David Soukup in Washington state in 1977. He realized that in an
over-burdened system, he needed help in obtaining the information needed to make the most informed
decisions as to the disposition of each case in the life of each child. He knew that the children’s
division caseworkers and the juvenile officers did not have sufficient time to devote to the cases to be
able to provide that information, and felt that independent community volunteers who had the time to
devote to each child were the most viable answer. This led to the establishment of Court Appointed
Special Advocates, an organization which provides trained community volunteers who investigate cases,
facilitate the delivery of mandated services, advocate on behalf of the child to the Court, and monitor
the cases until jurisdiction is terminated. Today there are 950 programs in 49 states and the District