ELIZABETH, NJ - Summit resident Lisa Betz was among the 15 newest court appointed special advocates -- representing 13 Union County municipalities -- who have chosen to serve 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.

After completion of approximately 30 hours’ training with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Union County, Betz 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.

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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.

“My husband and I have tried to raise our children with the fundamental belief they are safe, valued and loved," said Betz. "I'm so excited to put my energy into securing that important foundation for other children. This is an opportunity for me to have a positive impact on our wider community by doing something really personal.” 

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. For further details as well as training opportunities, contact Courtney Green at cgreen@casaofunioncounty.org or call 908-293-8136.