Program History and Legal Basis
Prior to the 1970s children were left out of the
very system meant to protect their interests. A comprehensive federal
law was signed in 1974 providing financial assistance to states
for the prevention, identification, and treatment of child abuse
and neglect. States seeking to qualify for assistance under this
act are required to provide children a guardian ad litem as the
person with the sole responsibility of bringing the child's
best interests to the forefront. South Carolina responded to this
law with the Child Protection Act of 1977, which mandated the appointment
of an attorney and Guardian ad Litem for every child whose interests
come before the court.
Richland County CASA, formerly the Volunteer Guardian
ad Litem Project, was formed in 1983 by the Junior League and governed
by a non-profit board of directors. In the mid80s the program was
placed under the auspices of Richland County Government where it
remains today. This unique public/non-profit partnership maximizes
every dollar and has allowed Richland County CASA to be one of the
most efficient programs in the country. In July 2000, the program
changed its name for increased usability and definition of scope.
Adopting the CASA name also allowed for a closer alignment with
the National CASA Association and use of their outstanding marketing
The State Guardian ad Litem Program was launched
in four judicial circuits in 1984 and implemented in 45 counties
in South Carolina in 1988. Because the Richland County program was
fully operational prior to the implementation of the State Program,
it remained independent. The State Program is now a division of
the Governor's Office.
Since 1983 RC CASA has recruited, screened, trained,
supervised, and provided legal representation for Guardians ad Litem
appointed in cases of abuse and neglect. RC CASA's mission
is to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children
in Richland County Family Court by providing quality volunteer and
legal representation to ensure each child a safe, permanent, nurturing
home. Quality services are delivered through a small staff and an
army of Guardians ad Litem to the children who need them most.
Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program
Richland County CASA embraces diversity in religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, ability, age and
socioeconomic class as an integral part of providing an exceptional volunteer experience for our community.