ELIZABETH, NJ — Thanks to Sabrina Stein of Towaco, even Morris County was represented last week as 15 community members from 13 municipalities were sworn in as 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. The ceremony was held at the Union County Family Courthouse.
Stein said, “I decided to become a CASA because I am dedicated to serving children. I was drawn to the organization's commitment to advocating for children, connecting families to resources and developing supportive communities. I look forward to making a contribution.”
After completion of approximately 30 hours’ training with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Union County, Stein and her 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. Could that be you?
For further details as well as training opportunities, contact Courtney at email@example.com or
CAPTION: Among the newest advocates for Union County’s foster youth are, from left, Stephen Wells of Westfield, Elizabeth Bennett of Rahway, Marykate La Bau of Cranford, Miozotty Diaz of Roselle Park, Lisa Betz of Summit, Andrea Balbuena of Kearny, Maryann Kaelin of Clark, Judge Richard Wischusen, Daniela Faibes of Mountainside, Hope Mitchell of Watchung, Samiyyah Muhammad of Linden, Sabrina Stein of Towaco, Nisha St. Louis of Irvington, Marcela Tricanico of Elizabeth, Kristin Steinmetz of Mountainside and Patricia Walsh of Cranford.