Shortly after a child enters into the Passaic County foster care system, they are paired with a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteer to ensure that their unique needs are met and that they are on the way to a safe and permanent home.
Unfortunately, as we head into the giving season, Passaic County CASA doesn’t have enough CASA volunteers to give children in foster care the best chance at a thriving future.
Since the summer, the number of children placed in foster care, and therefore the number of children in need of a CASA volunteer, has been steadily increasing. In fact, the number of children who became a part of Passaic County CASA’s advocacy program in September and October is double the number of children who started with the CASA program in June, July, and August.
“These kids need a voice and aren’t able to speak for themselves,” said Michelle Schaefer of West Milford, who has been a CASA volunteer for more than seven years.
CASA volunteers are compassionate, dedicated volunteers who ensure that a child’s individual needs remain priority and that their best interests are represented while they are involved with the child welfare system. CASAs work one-on-one with an abused or neglected child or group of siblings, advocate for their needs, and gather information from family, foster parents, caretakers, teachers, doctors, and caseworkers in order to make recommendations to the family court about the child’s future.
“CASAs are able to provide feedback to the court system to help the judges make decisions in the best interest of the children,” Schaefer said.
Prior child welfare experience and knowledge is not required. Passaic County CASA provides all of the training necessary to get started as a volunteer.
For those interested in learning more about this opportunity, please attend an upcoming online information session. These hour-long sessions give prospective volunteers a chance to learn more about the program and ask questions about the volunteer experience. Information sessions will be held via Zoom on the following dates and times: Saturday, Dec. 4, 10 – 11 a.m., and Monday, Dec. 13, 6 – 7 p.m. To register, visit www.passaiccountycasa.org/virtual-info-sessions.