About Us


What is CASA?

Superior Court judges appoint specially trained volunteers to speak up for abused and neglected children. Called “Court Appointed Special Advocates” (CASAs), they are also known as “guardians ad litem” (GALs).

CASAs serve as the “eyes and ears” of the court. They are independent of the child’s parents and independent of the state’s child protection and child welfare system.

CASAs investigate a child’s case and makes recommendations to the court. They monitor ongoing cases and facilitate communication and collaboration amongst the people and agencies involved with the child and the child’s family. Throughout the case, they advocate for the child’s best interests.

Our Approach

Our mission is to provide trained independent volunteers who promote and advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children within the justice system of Kittitas County.

Our vision is a community that is aware of and committed to the efforts of Court Advocates to secure safe, permanent, and loving homes for abused and neglected children in Kittitas County. 

Our Story

The CASA program began in 1977 in King County Superior Court located in Seattle, Washington, under the leadership of Presiding Judge David Soukup. By 1999, the CASA program had expanded across the United States. A national CASA association, headquartered in Seattle, provides support for its member programs throughout the country. 

Kittitas County’s CASA program began in 1985 under the leadership of Kittitas County Superior Court Judge JoAnne Alumbaugh.

In many counties, the CASA program is a part of the county’s juvenile court. Kittitas County’s CASA program is truly independent of the court, being managed and administered by an independent not-for-profit agency — Court Advocates for Children for Kittitas County, located in Ellensburg.


The Honorable Judge David W. Soukup talks about how he originated the idea of court-appointed special advocates to help judges make more informed decisions about what is best for children in the dependency court system.

Meet the Team

“It takes a whole village to raise a child.” – Igbo and Yoruba (Nigeria) Proverb

We have an amazing team of dedicated community members to serve as staff, board members and volunteers.

Carol Newell Pidduck

Executive Director

A graduate of Gonzaga University School of Law and the University of Washington, Ms. Pidduck has served as Court Advocates’ executive director since June 2000.  Her legal experience includes service as a state assistant attorney general and as a police department legal advisor.   While raising three sons, she and her husband were volunteers for their sons’ schools, sports teams and scout troops.  In her spare time, Ms. Pidduck enjoys reading, gardening, hiking, camping and spending time with her grandchildren.

Sandra Bankston

Volunteer Coordinator

Ms. Bankston has served as court advocates’ volunteer coordinator since November 2010.  Her extensive experience managing people, processes and programs comes from over a decade managing a fast past medical sales company in Seattle, Washington.  Ms. Bankston is passionate and dedicated to family and children as seen in the family she has created with her husband and four daughters.  When not in court, at the office, or training new volunteers  Ms. Bankston is chasing her seven soon to be eight grandchildren.

Jamie Samuelson

Executive Assistant

A graduate of Central Washington University with a Masters of Arts in History and a registered nurse Ms. Samuelson has served as court advocates’ part-time executive assistant since April 2016.  With the combination of a Master’s degree, experience in project management, and an uncanny ability to get tasks done, Ms. Samuelson is an integral part of the team.   When Ms. Samuelson is not in the office or court room she can be found on or very near the river with her husband and son as she is an avid fly-fisherwoman and camping enthusiast.

Next Steps…

A great strength of the CASA program is its volunteers!  Court Advocates for Children, the CASA program in Kittitas County, seeks volunteers from all cultures; professions or occupations; racial, ethnic and educational backgrounds age twenty-one or older.   WE NEED YOU to make a difference in the lives of children in Kittitas County.