CASA Celebrates 30 Years of Service to the Community


Since 1994, CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of the High Plains has been advocating for children and families of the Texas Panhandle through a dedicated team of volunteers and staff whose mission is to improve and protect the lives of neglected and abused children.

The CASA program was designed in 1977 by Judge David Soukup from Seattle, WA who wanted to know more about the children whose lives were in his hands and came up with the idea of asking community volunteers to act as a “voice in court” for children.

In 1994 after finding himself asking the same questions about making the right decisions in child protection cases, Judge Lee Waters of Pampa brought the program to the Texas Panhandle, covering Hansford, Lipscomb, Ochiltree, Hemphill, Roberts, Wheeler, Gray and Donley counties.   

Nita Williamson has been with CASA since February of 2017, volunteering for five years before becoming a permanent part of the staff.

“What a volunteer does is they go in and they meet all the parties of the case and visit the child and get to know them and learn what it is that they need,” Williamson said. “You learn what needs are being met and what needs are not being met and you establish a good relationship with them. Then you get to know the parents and the placement whether the child is in foster care or with a relative. You take all the information that you gather and in three or four months, there’s a court hearing. You write a court report and make recommendations to the judge and tell him how the case is progressing.”

“This means everything to me. This program makes such a difference and until you really get into it and see what all we do through our volunteers with this program, it’s amazing. To see these kids come out with a better outcome and to know that we were able to help make that difference is very rewarding.”

Grace Nelson has been with CASA since 2011, starting as a voluteer supervisor and later becoming the program director. 

“As the program director, I make sure our program is operating according to the Texas CASA and National CASA standards and I oversee our child advocacy specialists,” Nelson said.

“It’s really been a blessing to see the work that these volunteers put in because they care about the kids and they want to see the kids have better outcomes. Whether the kids’ families have been in a crisis situation and they’ve been removed and the parents work to do what they need to do and see them get reunified, that’s a wonderful feeling to see these kids go back home, or sometimes kids need to find permanency elsewhere and that’s also a wonderful feeling just to help them find a permanent place to go where they can be safe. It’s just been so rewarding.”

Alissha Jefferis has been with CASA since 2012, starting as a volunteer before becoming the executive director in 2015.

“I do the grant writing, pay the bills, grant administration, reports and surveys for the government,” Jefferis said.

“We advocate for children in the foster care system over eight counties in the Texas Panhandle. If a child is removed from the home and entered in the foster care system from any of those counties, we are automatically appointed to advocate for that child. We advocate for their education, medical-we take information from anybody that is involved in that child’s life and put it together and build a report and go to court for them so we can speak for them on their side about what they need and what is best for them.”

“Judge Waters was seeing the CPS cases and he heard of the program and felt like we had a great need for it in our area. It’s really hard as the judge because you’re sitting there making decisions on these children’s and families’ lives and I just feel like him along with other judges didn’t feel like they had enough information and wanted to know more and be more informed.”

“Our volunteers aren’t getting paid to do this, they’re doing it out of the kindness of their heart because they care. Once I started as a volunteer, I did it because I just wanted to do something to help, I wanted to help change lives. It’s an absolute dream job for me.” 

CASA of the High Plains is always graciously accepting volunteers for all eight counties and encourages anyone who wishes to become a part of this beloved organization to reach out. Currently there are nine children without a volunteer.

Volunteers must be 21 years of age, able to pass a CPS and criminal background check, have to be able to make meetings and visits, make time and travel commitments, among a few other requirements.

For more information on how to become a volunteer, visit, call 806-669-7638 or visit the office, located at 315 N. Ballard in Pampa Monday through Thursday from 8 AM to 3 PM and can meet after hours by appointment.