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 materials.
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.