ELIZABETH, NJ — Lisa LaGreca of Clark is one of 16 newly sworn-in court appointed special advocates, volunteers who act as extra eyes and ears for family court judges on cases involving Union County’s abused, neglected or abandoned children living in foster care.

LaGreca completed 30 hours of training comprised of online learning and in-person sessions. Most court appointed special advocate volunteers have no prior knowledge of the foster system.

According to CASA of Union County, volunteers with varied backgrounds make successful advocates and LaGreca’s class was no exception. Advocates ranged in age from 21 to 81; were parents and non-parents; recent retirees and students; and their careers included business professionals, a teacher, nurse, attorney and professor; as well as homemakers. Languages spoken include Spanish, Chinese, Ukrainian and German.

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After Union County Superior Court Judge James Hely administered oaths to LaGreca’s class of volunteers, the group gathered with staff and board members for a celebratory luncheon, during which they were matched to their new case.

CASA volunteers have court-ordered access to all parties in a child’s life, including foster parents, doctors, caseworkers, therapists and teachers, and incorporate into court reports findings from these contacts as well as time spent with the youth.

Volunteers advocate both in the community and court to ensure their youth’s needs are met and their time in care is as short as possible. There are 600 Union County children currently in foster care and CASA of Union County serves approximately one-third; its mission is to provide an advocate for every foster child that needs one.

For details on future trainings, contact Courtney at 908-527-7045 or cgreen@casaofunioncounty.org. To inquire about other ways to support CASA of Union County, contact Executive Director Marla Higginbotham at 908-527-7041 or marlah@casaofunioncounty.org.

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