WAYNE TWP. - This New Year, make a new kind of resolution – volunteer to speak up for a vulnerable child in Passaic County.
In 2018, almost 500 children were removed from their homes in Passaic County due to abuse and/or neglect. These children were separated from everyone and everything they’ve ever known: parents, friends, teachers, siblings, and often their personal belongings. These children need an advocate to look out for their best interests and be a consistent presence in their lives while they are living in foster care.
That’s where Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers, or CASAs, come in. CASA volunteers are compassionate, dedicated community members from all backgrounds who believe that every child deserves someone to speak up for them. CASA volunteers are partnered with a child or group of siblings, spend time with the child/children, gather information about his or her needs from the family, caretakers, teachers, doctors, and caseworkers, and make informed recommendations to the family court about the child’s future. The role of a CASA volunteer is simple: to advocate for whatever is in the best interest of the child/children.
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 children who have been abused and/or neglected.
“I was blessed with a wonderful childhood,” CASA volunteer Pam Saunders of Wayne said. “I believe that every child deserves a safe, loving home and being a CASA volunteer helps make that a reality.”
CASA volunteers do not require any specific educational or professional background. 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 the 30-hour training program.
The first step to becoming a volunteer is to attend an informational session, which provides details about the volunteer experience and an opportunity for prospective volunteers to ask questions. The next information sessions will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 9; at 10 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 17; and at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22. All volunteer information sessions are held at the Passaic County CASA office, located at 415 Hamburg Turnpike, Suite D2, in Wayne.