Our Mission

To recruit, train, and empower community volunteers to advocate for children who have experienced abuse or neglect in West Virginia’s Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties.

Our Vision

Every child who has experienced abuse or neglect has an advocate working on behalf of their best interests and is given the opportunity to thrive in a safe and loving home.

Our Work

CASA-EP empowers volunteers to directly influence life-changing decisions affecting children in foster care. Trained and supervised by CASA-EP’s staff of professionals, volunteer advocates become sworn officers of the court before being carefully matched with a child.

As a CASA Volunteer you will:

  • Be a trusted support for a child or youth. The CASA-EP volunteer is often a key person who can be counted on in a sea of ever-changing faces.
  • Advocate for the child’s or youth’s social, emotional, educational, and permanency needs and ensure that they are met (promptly and fully) through appropriate social services, educational support, and access to other community resources.
  • Monitor the progress of CASA-EP children and youth, building a close connection through weekly visits and consistent, caring support for the duration of their time in the system.

Our Values

CASA-EP recruits, trains, and empowers community volunteers to become court-appointed special advocates for all children who have experienced abuse and neglect in West Virginia’s Berkeley, Jefferson, and Morgan counties. CASA-EP is committed to better understanding and honoring every child that has a unique circumstance and special factors, especially those from historically marginalized groups. Racial and ethnic differences may be most evident, but we also recognize important differences in heritage, cultural background, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, persons with disabilities and other underrepresented identities. CASA-EP commits to value these differences and varied strengths among us to better serve the children of our region and, ultimately, our larger community. CASA-EP undertakes this commitment not only in writing, but by strengthening our communications, training, operations, community relationships and overall climate of inclusion to be reflective of the identities of the most vulnerable children in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

When a Child has a CASA Advocate...

more likely to
succeed in school

more likely to find a safe,
permanent home

half as likely to re-enter
the foster care system


Although their cases are among the most difficult and heartbreaking, children with court-appointed volunteers cycle through fewer foster placements and spend less time in foster care.

When a Child has a CASA Advocate...

more likely to
succeed in school

more likely to find a safe,
permanent home

half as likely to re-enter
the foster care system

They reach safe, permanent homes and loving families more quickly. What’s that worth to a child? To our region? To our state? The answer in dollars is impressive: $1.6 million a year in savings on foster care alone.

The answer for everything else we value as a society—health, happiness, resilience, hope, strength, human potential, faith in ourselves, and in our neighbors—is beyond measure.

Through persistence, partnership, and passion for our mission, CASA-EP now serves over 200 children annually in the Eastern Panhandle.

Help us Serve more Children and Increase our Impact

Fostering Futures

Older youth in foster care are one of the most vulnerable populations in this country. They are less likely to reach a permanent home and may languish in the foster care system for years before aging out, which happens to hundreds of young people every year in West Virginia. Fostering Futures is a new program that pairs CASA-EP volunteer advocates with children who will age out of the foster care system. For more information on volunteering to work with children in our new Fostering Futures program, please fill out an inquiry form.


Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a national volunteer movement. Its founder, Seattle Superior Court Judge David Soukup, decided he couldn’t endure any more sleepless nights worrying about the lifelong impact his decisions had on abused and neglected children.

He thought well-trained volunteers could ensure that children’s voices were heard and provide judges with the necessary insight to make the best possible decisions.

By 1977, Judge Soukup formed the first CASA program to recruit, train, and supervise everyday people who volunteered to build meaningful relationships and advocate for abused and neglected children in juvenile dependency court. Today, close to 1,000 CASA programs work within state networks and in affiliation with the National CASA Association to serve our nation’s most vulnerable children.

The CASA-EP program was started in 2003 through the hard work and dedication of Joan Piemme and Val Smith.

Board & Staff Leadership


Susan Caperton
Community Advocate


Patty Bachner
VP, Bachner Communications


Heather Henry
Washington County Public Schools


Tim Pownell
United Bank


Kerry Asam
Bavarian Inn

Mary Butler
Shepherd University

Rosa Clark
Retired Education Administrator

Kristen Gingery
Morgan Partnership

Tim Hott
Erie Insurance

Cindy Kitner
Jefferson Security Bank

Rev. Dean Lawrence
Zion Episcopal Church

Lyndsey Matschat
Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office

Amy Panzarella
Human Resources

Rev. GT Schramm
Trinity Episcopal Church

Gloria Shoemaker
Community Mental Health

Bernadine Somers
Morgan Academy

Emeritus Board

Carol Asam
Kathy Santa Barbara
Val Smith

Staff Leadership

Michelle Sudduth
Executive Director

Cari Lefeber
Volunteer Supervisor

Del Pope
Director of Training & Development

Brian Truman
Office Volunteer

Julia Yuhasz
Outreach & Marketing

Nikki Johnson
Program Coordinator
Sarah Pauletti
Volunteer Supervisor
Melody Stotler
Volunteer Supervisor