The King County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program has announced the Seattle law firm of Foster Pepper PLLC as the 2009 recipient of the Judge David Soukup Pro Bono Recognition Award. W. Gregory Guedel, Chair of the firm’s Native American Legal Services Group, and Pro Bono Counsel Joanna Plichta Boisen will receive the award on behalf of the firm on April 25, 2009 in Seattle.
The award, named for the jurist who founded the nation’s first CASA program in Seattle in 1977, is presented annually to an organization demonstrating noteworthy commitment to CASA’s mission of providing free legal service for children up to 11 years old who have allegedly been abused and/or neglected. The need for CASA advocacy in Native Communities is especially great, as Native American children are disproportionately involved in legal issues involving foster care and custody. Foster Pepper is being recognized for its work in creating a new legal deskbook for practitioners serving Native American children under the federal Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and for its landmark ICWA seminar that provided training to a national group of CASA volunteers serving Native Communities. Video and audio of the seminar can be accessed here or as podcasts through iTunes.
Dependency/CASA Pro-Bono Coordinator Janet Harris stated in announcing the award:
We are still reeling from the fabulous day we spent with you and our guests at the Indian Child Welfare Act seminar. So much work and effort on your part made the event a resounding success and helped the CASA program along the path to establishing our own Native American unit.