WAYNE, NJ - Almost 600 children from all across Passaic County are currently in foster care. Unfortunately, many of these children do not have an advocate to look out for their best interests.

Passaic County CASA for Children is seeking compassionate, dedicated volunteers to take on that role as volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASAs.

CASAs are trained and committed adults who ensure that a child’s individual needs remain priority while they are involved with child welfare.

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“The feeling of having helped a child, in some small way, is indescribable,” said Candace Eardley, a CASA volunteer from Totowa.

The next CASA volunteer training begins on Monday, Jan. 29, and continues for a total of 10 sessions on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Training is held from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Passaic County CASA office, located at 415 Hamburg Turnpike, Suite B1, in Wayne.

CASAs work one-on-one with an abused or neglected child, advocating for his or her needs and gathering information from the family, caretakers, teachers, doctors, and caseworkers in order to make informed recommendations to the family court about the child’s future.

“CASAs are able to provide feedback to the court system to help the judges make decisions in the best interest of the children,” Schaefer said.

From helping siblings find permanent homes together, to setting up a child with needed services, to uncovering information that helps reunite a loving family, volunteer advocates make incredible differences in the lives of abused and neglected children. 

CASA volunteers do not require any specific educational or professional background. Volunteers are men and women from all walks of life, and diverse socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. To become a CASA volunteer, a person must be 21 years or older, have the ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing, pass a background check, and complete 36 hours of training.

For more information about the volunteer program, visit www.passaiccountycasa.org, e-mail Jessica Mickley at jessica@passaiccountycasa.org, or call 973-832-4002, ext. 210.

Passaic County CASA is a nonprofit organization that recruits, screens, trains, and supervises volunteers to “Speak Up for a Child” removed from home due to abuse or neglect. CASA is the only program in New Jersey that uses trained volunteers to work one-on-one with children, ensuring that each child receives needed services and achieves permanency in a safe, nurturing home. Last year, over 600 youth went through the Passaic county foster care system. However, because of a limited number of volunteers, only 25 percent of them were fortunate to benefit from a CASA. For additional information, please visit www.passaiccountycasa.org.