Court-Appointed Special Advocates are volunteers from many different backgrounds who give their time to advocate for abused and neglected children in the court system. Our program is based on the principle that each child deserves a safe, permanent, nurturing home where they can thrive. Our volunteers are the difference between abuse and hope.
In 2000, Sunflower CASA Project opened Sunflower Bridge — the Riley County Child Exchange and Visitation Center. This project was a collaboration between CASA and the Domestic Violence Task Force and was funded by the Office of the Kansas Attorney General. Sunflower Bridge exists to ensure the safety of children during supervised visits with their parents or during exchanges for unsupervised visitation.
In 2007, Sunflower CASA Project agreed to facilitate the formation of a Child Advocacy Center in Riley County. Child Advocacy Centers, or CACs, coordinate a collaborative partnership of professionals who are dedicated to providing child-sensitive interviews and compassionate services to children and their family. Professionals representing child protective services, legal, law enforcement, mental health, medical and other disciplines provide a coordinated team response when a child reports abuse or when there is reason to believe a child has been abused or neglected.
Nationally, there are over 400 CACs accredited by the National Children’s Alliance and there are many more CACs in development. Stepping Stones Child Advocacy Center opened its doors on July 1, 2008.
The CASA movement began in 1977 when Judge David Soukup of Seattle, Washington, came up with the idea of trained community volunteers advocating for abused and neglected children. Judge Soukup felt he did not have sufficient information to make informed decisions in cases involving children. From his vision, CASA has spread across the country. There are now over 900 CASA programs nationwide with over 70,000 child advocates! Since its inception in 1977, CASA volunteers have advocated from more than 1,000,000 abused and neglected children.
The first CASA program in Kansas was developed in 1981 in Wichita, KS. In 1988 Sunflower CASA Project began in Riley county. Our program then branched out to Clay county in 1991 serving all of the 21st Judicial district. Then in 2001 we expanded again to Pottawatomie county, a member of the 2nd Judicial district.