We Provide Advocates for Children in Foster Care

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We recruit, screen, train and then provide an advocate to one child or sibling group who has been removed from their homes by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. The Family Court Judges assign children to available advocates.

Within this system, the child will have a social worker, legal representation and others that are involved in their case, but a CASA is the only adult that is specifically assigned to look out for the best interests of the child. The CASA is the only adult that is assigned to just that child or sibling group.

The CASA gets to know the child and all those involved in the child’s life; the CASA becomes their voice in court until the child is in a home that is considered legally permanent, whether that be reunification with family or an adoptive home. Our advocates are fully trained in various aspects of the foster care system and family court system, its legalities and how to best advocate for the child’s best interests taking into consideration physical, medical, educational and emotional factors.The CASA writes court reports for the family court judge and all of the legal parties providing up to date information on the child.  The judges count on these reports to help them make more informed decisions for the best interests of the children.

Why We Do It

A child has the undeniable right to feel safe, loved, to learn, grow and become the person they are destined to be. Unfortunately, many families are in crisis and too often children are not provided these basic rights. Right now, over 1,000 children are separated from their families in Bergen County.

The effects of abuse can last a lifetime. Children in foster care lead extremely unstable and stressful lives, often shuttled between foster homes, institutional or family placements and shelters. Homes, friends, foster parents and schools may change many times during a single year. As a result, these children experience the long-term, often debilitating, effects of living away from their family. These effects include anxiety, depression, anger, improper sexual behavior and a tendency toward substance abuse and violence.

At 21, foster youth are emancipated from the child welfare system, whether or not they have a permanent home. Often these youth are alone, jobless and homeless with nothing more than a suitcase of clothes. Without proper guidance and preparation, these young adults can turn to crime, violence and drugs as a means to survive.

 

Aging Out Conference and Adoption Day – Bergen County CASA Holds Events for Children in Foster Care

Though CASA’s main mission is to provide advocates for children living in foster homes, residential facilities, or group homes, we also plan two events in partnership with Bergen County Family Court and Division of Child Protection and Permanency.  The Aging Out Conference is for youth ages 14 – 21 who need to start planning for their futures when they leave the child welfare system.  Rutgers University Center for Child Advocacy provides the youth with an engaging and important presentation on their legal rights prior to leaving the system, we provide a resource fair with our community partners in Bergen County to support the youth as they age out. Additionally, at the conference we provide the youth with other workshops e.g. on housing and budgeting.  The Adoption Day event which takes place in November throughout the country is a wonderful celebration for the children and their new forever families.