WAYNE – Help Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) ensure that children in foster care start off the school year on the right foot – and with brand-new school supplies in hand.

The Wayne-based non-profit is collecting school supplies to distribute to the nearly 600 children in Passaic County who enter the foster care system each year. From Clifton to Ringwood, from Paterson to West Milford, there are children in out-of-home placement who won’t be going back-to-school shopping with mom or dad come August.

Suggested donations include backpacks, composition and spiral notebooks, three-ring binders, writing utensils, folders, calculators, etc. All items must be new.

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Passaic County CASA recruits, trains, and supervises Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers who speak up for the best interests of children in the foster care system.  The volunteers act as the “eyes and ears” of the family court, and make recommendations to the judge about children’s needs.

Eight years ago, however, Passaic County CASA realized that one important need wasn’t being met: many children in foster care were starting off the school year without the proper school supplies.

And so began the now annual drive.

Besides physically equipping the children with backpacks filled to the brim, the school supply drive also provides children in foster care with confidence and some much needed excitement.

 “A child in foster care is unable to focus on school or be excited about starting school like other youth may be because they often do not have the same level of support or preparation for the school year,” said Passaic County CASA Executive Director Erica Fischer-Kaslander. “By ensuring that they have proper supplies for their grade and class through our advocacy and supply collections, CASA is one step closer to ensuring a child has a chance at a successful, safe, and permanent childhood home.”

All school supply donations may be dropped off at the Passaic County CASA for Children office, located at 415 Hamburg Turnpike, Suite B1, in Wayne. Donations will be accepted through Friday, August 24. For more information contact Pam Saunders at 973-832-4002 or pam@passaiccountycasa.org.

If you are able to donate your time, consider becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer. For more information, visit http://www.passaiccountycasa.org, call 973-832-4002, or e-mail Jessica Mickley at Jessica@passaiccountycasa.org.