CASA After 25 Years

CASA of Northwest Arkansas After 25 Years

Join us as we reminisce over the last twenty-five years of our organization serving the children of Northwest Arkansas.

CASA Over The Years



A group of concerned child welfare professionals began meeting in 1991 to work towards bringing a CASA program to Northwest Arkansas


We received our first court order


In our first year, twenty-seven volunteers were trained within three training offered; fourteen cases were assigned which involved twenty-two children.


Our program’s first CASA court report was submitted in January, 1998.


In September, 1998, we were assigned our first two cases in Benton County by Judge Finch.


Our organization’s name changed from ‘Washington & Madison County CASA’ to ‘CASA of Northwest Arkansas.’


In December of 2000, our program expanded to Carroll County.


In June, we achieved our five-year strategic initiative to have a CASA to serve every child in our area by 2020!

Staff & Board

  • The first paid staff person was hired in July 1997, part-time Executive Director Melodie Marcks.
  • Our staff has a collective total of 179 years of child welfare experience.
  • Our Executive Director Crystal Vickmark received the 2020 Kappa Alpha Theta Program Director of the Year Award, chosen from the nearly 900 CASA/GAL program directors nationwide. The recipient of this award is someone who has taken significant actions to establish or expand a CASA program.
  • Chris Mitchell, current president of the CASA Board of Directors, is our longest serving board member. He’s currently on his fifth, three-year term since first joining the board in 2004. What a commitment!
  • Three of our staff members – Tara Marcom, Sadie Perkins, and Kayla Tave – are TBRI practitioners. TBRI® stands for Trust-Based Relational Intervention®. TBRI helps practitioners meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. The training Tara, Sadie, and Kayla received enables them to train our volunteers in trauma-informed advocacy which focuses on a holistic approach to understanding the needs of abused and neglected children. Approximately 70 volunteers have been trained in trauma-informed advocacy so far.

CASA Volunteers

  • Our very first CASA volunteers were a group of 12 sworn in by Judge Charles Williams in October 1997.
  • Our longest serving advocate is Margot Martin. She’s volunteered for 20 years and has taken on 18 cases. Wow!
  • The average tenure of our current advocates is 3 years.
  • The first Benton County volunteers were a group of 5 sworn in by Judge Jay Finch in August 1998.
  • CASA volunteers submitted approximately 1,039 court reports between January and December 2021.

Looking at the past four years, our average volunteer retention rate is 82%.


  • One year of CASA advocacy costs less than one month of foster care.
  • In 2016 we established an organizational endowment with the Arkansas Community Foundation to support the long-term sustainability of our organization.
  • With an eye on the future, we purchased our current office building in 2014 to have space to grow. In 2021, we paid off our mortgage.
  • We held our signature fundraiser Light of Hope for the first time in 2009. We raised $71,000 that year. (Compare that to our last in-person Light of Hope in 2019 when we raised $525,000.)

"This organization grabbed my heart in 2004 and has never let go.CASA’s incredible staff and volunteers do an amazing job of being fierce advocates on behalf of all of the abused and neglected children in NWA, and I’m proud to be able to support them and our mission."

- Chris Mitchell, Current Board President