Volunteers Needed Now to Advocate for Child-Victims Placed in Foster Care


Wayne, NJ (January 8, 2024) — Five-year-old Jennifer is diagnosed with autism and almost completely nonverbal. Due to excessive violence in the family home, a concerned neighbor called for help and, after investigation, Jennifer was placed in foster care. The two phrases Jennifer can say graphically depict violence witnessed at home and confirm trauma she’s endured. Since entering care and being enrolled in school, it’s evident Jennifer has also experienced educational neglect. At age three, she was entitled to an Individualized Education Plan from the Department of Education to provide such intervention services as in-home speech and behavioral therapies, both helpful for future enrollment in a half-day educational program. Unfortunately, Jennifer’s parents neglected to utilize these services and she is now more than two years behind her peers.

Jennifer is just one of the more than 500 children removed from their homes in Passaic and Union counties each year due to abuse and neglect. These children are separated from all they’ve ever known: parents, siblings, friends, teachers, even their belongings. For Jennifer, the road ahead is long, and she needs a caring, consistent adult in her corner to protect her best interests while in foster care.

That’s where Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers come in. A CASA volunteer is trained on the ins and outs of advocating for child-victims and fully supported by CASA staff for the duration of the case. No special background in child welfare is necessary; successful CASA volunteers are dedicated community members with varied life experiences who believe abuse and neglect are non-negotiable. A CASA volunteer will advocate for Jennifer’s educational rights, make recommendations to the judge, and monitor timely and continued implementation of services, all while providing the child with a sense of consistency during a time of unknowns.

Can you help any one of the myriad children like her? Step up now to train in February as a CASA volunteer. The first step is attending any one of the following orientation sessions at CASA’s office, 415 Hamburg Turnpike in Wayne: 5:30 pm Thursday, Jan. 11; 10 am Tuesday, Jan. 16; 5:30 pm Thursday, Jan. 18; 10 am Tuesday, Jan. 23; 5:30 pm Thursday, Jan. 25; and 10 am Tuesday, Jan. 30. Register now at www.casapassaicunion.org/info-session.


The nonprofit is court-empowered to recruit, train and support volunteer advocates to speak up for the best interests of children in foster care. Assigned by a court order that grants access to the child and all those in their lives, the CASA volunteer gathers information and makes informed recommendations to the judge deciding the child’s future. Often, the CASA volunteer is the only consistent person in the child’s life. Applicants must be at least 21, be able to communicate effectively both orally and in writing, pass a background check, and complete the 36-hour training. For more information about CASA of Passaic and Union Counties, call 973-832-4002, e-mail info@casapassaicunion.org or log on to www.casapassaicunion.org.


press release via: Gretchen Boger-O’Bryan, Content Director

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