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Our History

Celebrating 43 Years of Service to Hamilton County

ProKids has served thousands of abused and neglected children in Hamilton County since its founding in 1981, thanks to a passionate staff, devoted volunteers, and a committed community.

In the years since ProKids began, we have focused on a simple goal: to guide children to safe, permanent, and nurturing homes where they can thrive.

In the child protection system, these children, who have been removed from their homes, are likely to be harmed by further abuse. They are less likely to get what they need in school or from medical or therapeutic services. And they are often placed in homes without their siblings.

ProKids has identified these challenges and is working tirelessly to change the realities of foster care. By studying our outcome measures, comprehensive training schemes, and an unwavering commitment to these children, ProKids has surpassed the expectations of its founders.

From the Beginning

A national movement begins

In the mid-1970s a national movement began. Intensive monitoring of the child welfare system provided the realization that some children who had been removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect were ill-treated, or ignored, by the very institutions created to care for them.

Several laws were enacted

The federal government established a requirement for Guardian Ad Litems (GALs) to represent children in the child protection systems and juvenile court proceedings. In some communities, GALs were paid, while in others they were volunteers. Rarely, however, were they trained to act as advocates in and out of the courtroom for the children they were appointed to represent.

The role of CASA Volunteer was created

The idea of training lay advocates for these children began with Judge David Soukup of Seattle, Washington. Judge Soukup recruited and trained community volunteers called Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) to serve as voices for children involved in abuse and neglect court actions. In 1977, the first volunteer CASA/GAL program was started in Seattle.

ProKids founded

in 1981 ProKids was founded through the joint efforts of the Junior League of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Bar Association, and Hamilton County Juvenile Court. There were 25 CASA programs nationwide and ProKids was the third in Ohio.

First year

ProKids established a 12-member board and a staff of three. ProKids served over 100 children during its first year of existence.

Growth & Expansion Through the Years


ProKids creates GAL division

Hamilton County contracted with ProKids to provide service as a reaction to a newly passed law requiring abused and neglected children to have GAL representation. ProKids began operating a GAL division in addition to the CASA program and expanded its staff to 23.

1992 – 1995

ProKids CASA Volunteers serve
about 40 children per year

ProKids continued to serve almost all of the children who were subjects of abuse and neglect proceedings in Hamilton County Juvenile Court through staff social workers and attorneys.


ProKids renews focus on the CASA Volunteer role

The Hamilton County Public Defender’s Commission transferred the GAL program to its own Public Defender office. Since 1996, this focus has led to tremendous growth and innovation. Hamilton County Juvenile Court appoints ProKids CASA Volunteers to cases, expressing a desire to have a CASA Volunteer for every child.


ProKids served 20% of children

Who were subjects of abuse and neglect proceedings in Hamilton County Juvenile Court. This proportion has continued to increase, although the number of children who need a CASA Volunteer continues to increase as well.


CASA University redesigned

There was a greater need for CASA Volunteers which led ProKids to redesign the CASA training program. CASA University allowed volunteers to access training year-round. CASA University graduated more than twice.


ProKids CASA Volunteers served more than 500 children

At that time, Hamilton County Job and Family Services had more than 2,700 children in the child protection system.


ProKids Celebrates 40 years in operation!

ProKids invited staff, CASA Volunteers and members of the community to celebrate 40 years of serving abused and neglected children in Hamilton County.


ProKids served 1,204 children

with 312 CASA Volunteers.

Over the years, ProKids refined its support of CASA Volunteers, expanding the number of CASA Managers and staff attorneys to advocate alongside the volunteers in court. This partnership of passionate staff and committed volunteers means that ProKids children have the best possible advocacy in the child protection system.

Onward to Our
New Generational Home

Located at 222 West 7th Street, about one-half mile from our court,
ProKids new 22,000 square-foot space has been designed to support staff and volunteers as well as provide welcoming space for our partners in the child protection system.

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