ROSELLE/ROSELLE PARK, NJ - Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Union County has added five new child advocates to its roster, including Roselle’s Kevin Charles and Roselle Park’s Kathy Davis. The newly trained volunteers were sworn in by Judge Marc R. Brown via Zoom and Judge James Hely logged in to offer congratulations and thanks.

Davis said “I became a CASA volunteer to make a life-changing difference for children who have experienced abuse or neglect to speak up for a child’s interest in court and hopefully make a real difference at a critical turning point in their life.” She also has served as an advocate for the CASA program in Essex County.

Charles, Davis and classmates Cynthia Evans and Suzanne Staszak-Silva of Scotch Plains and Erin McGee of Mountainside will be matched to one or more of Union County’s most vulnerable youth removed from home due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. Considered extra eyes and ears for family law judges, the advocates will be assigned to their youth by court order, which grants access not only to the youth but to their foster parents, doctor, attorney, caseworker, therapist and teachers. Advocates regularly visit youth and connect with case stakeholders to determine outstanding needs or concerns, then report to the court and make recommendations. Successful advocates come from all walks of life and backgrounds. This class ranges in age from 30s to 70s, are parents and non-parents with backgrounds including management, coaching, publishing and the U.S. Postal Service.

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Executive Director Julienne Cherry said, “This is our third class to be trained and sworn in virtually since Covid-19 emerged. While the power of a pandemic is undeniable – from impeding our ability to train in person and take oaths in court, to wreaking tremendous havoc and loss on our community, our state, our nation and the world – it is no match for the power of a community coming together to help those in need. This class is no exception: Despite personal, family and professional responsibilities, each has stepped up to help change the lives of Union County’s most vulnerable citizens, and I’ll let you in on a secret: It won’t be long before this journey changes their lives, too."

There are approximately 400 Union County youth from birth to age 21 in foster care, and more than 200 still need a CASA in their corner.

For details on upcoming trainings, contact Abby at agallego@casaofunioncounty.org.

Caption:
Joining Judge Marc R. Brown, bottom row, center, are Union County’s newest child advocates: from left, top row, Cynthia Evans of Scotch Plains and Erin McGee of Mountainside; middle, Suzanne Staszak-Silva of Scotch Plains, Kathy Davis of Roselle Park and Kevin Charles of Roselle.