What we do at Bergen CASA
At CASA for Children of Bergen County, we recruit, screen and train individuals who become Court Appointed Special Advocates. The Family Court judiciary refer children to Bergen CASA who have been removed from their homes by the Division of Child Protection and Permanency and need our assistance; we then provide an advocate dedicated to one child or sibling group.
Within this system, the child will have a social worker, legal representation and others that are involved in their case, but a CASA fills a special role as the only adult specifically assigned to look out for the best interests of the child. Unlike the other people involved in a case, the CASA is the only adult who remains consistently with just that child or sibling group throughout the duration of the case.
What does a CASA do?
The CASA gets to know the child and all those involved in the child’s life, and 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, and how to best advocate for the child’s best interests taking into consideration physical, medical, educational, and emotional needs.
The CASA writes court reports for the family court judge and all 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.
“Children must have at least one person who believes in them. It could be a counselor, a teacher, a preacher, a friend. It could be you. You never know when a little love, a little support will plant a small seed of hope.”
Marian Wright Edelman
Founder and president of Children’s Defense Fund