ELIZABETH, NJ - Summit's Lori Leiter was one of nine individuals sworn in by Superior Court Judge James Hely to become Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Union County. Leiter was joined by residents of Cranford, Elizabeth, Jersey City, Linden, Roselle, Union, Westfield and Winfield in the latest class of community volunteers to complete child advocacy training and take their oaths.

The new advocates are ages 28 to 72 and include parents and non-parents; professionals in business, technology, education and law enforcement; students; retirees; and homemakers. Most had no prior knowledge of the foster system. Each will soon receive their case and meet the foster youth for whom they will advocate.

Volunteers with CASA serve as extra eyes and ears for family law judges hearing cases involving the county’s abused, neglected or abandoned children removed from home and placed in foster care. They have court-ordered access to all parties in a foster child’s life, including foster parents, doctors, caseworkers, therapists and teachers, and incorporate findings into court reports from these contacts as well as time spent with the youth.

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In addition to ensuring their needs are met and best interests protected, CASA volunteers aim to become a constant in the life of their assigned youth, who are living amid unknowns about their future, changing caseworkers and multiple foster homes.

CASA of Union County’s goal is that every Union County foster child has an advocate; yet half of the more than 500 such youth still await one. The next CASA training begins July 11 and two additional trainings are slated for the fall. For details, call Courtney at 908-293-8136, contact cgreen@casaofunioncounty.org, or visit casaofunioncounty.org.