CRANFORD — Thanks to Marykate La Bau and Patricia Walsh, Cranford was among 13 municipalities represented by the 15 newest court appointed special advocates tasked with serving as extra eyes and ears for family law judges on the cases of Union County youth removed from their home due to abuse, neglect or abandonment and placed in foster homes or residential facilities.

“I am ready to help facilitate the best outcome and promise of a brighter future for any child who is a victim of circumstance," said La Bau. "Restoring hope for these kids so that they can persevere and thrive is my greatest wish as a CASA.” 

“I became a CASA because I am passionate about helping children overcome adversity and achieve their full potential,” Walsh added.

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After completion of approximately 30 hours’ training with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Union County, La Bau, Walsh and their classmates took their oath and were sworn in as advocates and judicial volunteers by Superior Court Judge Richard Wischusen. After completion of three hours’ court observation to see seasoned CASA volunteers in action, the new advocates will meet their assigned foster youth or siblings.

The new advocates range from age 23 to 66, are parents and nonparents, and work in such fields as education, nonprofit, and law enforcement, as well as homemakers. Most had no prior knowledge of the foster system.

With court-ordered access to foster parents, doctors, caseworkers, therapists and teachers, CASA volunteers incorporate their findings into court reports and work to ensure each youth’s needs are met and best interests protected. They are a constant during chaos and work to ensure the youth’s trauma is not exacerbated in care.

There are approximately 500 Union County youth from birth to age 21 in foster care, and more than 200 are still waiting for their very own CASA volunteer in their corner. 

For further details as well as training opportunities, contact Courtney at cgreen@casaofunioncounty.org or 908-293-8136.