Every day, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children of Atlantic and Cape May Counties and the network of CASA programs throughout New Jersey recruit, train and support CASA volunteers who advocate on behalf of children and youth living in foster care. We work to ensure that these children have access to resources and services that will improve their outcomes, raise awareness of the obstacles they face and help them overcome those obstacles.
Sometimes our work feels like an uphill battle, and not every story ends with a positive outcome. Nevertheless, the success stories we see energize and encourage us. The girl who catches up academically even after losing four months of school because she moved three times in the last year. The teen who receives a scholarship even though only 2% of foster youth even go to college. The boy finally reunited with his parents after a year in care because they received the help that they so desperately needed.
These success stories are possible when caring adults are active in a foster youth’s life. With a supportive team, that includes CASA volunteers, child welfare professionals, teachers, therapists, foster families, and, the family courts, foster youth can achieve all of their hopes and dreams. This whole team is crucial to ensuring that foster youth reach their fullest potential.
As we face these challenging times, the child welfare team is even more important. Through virtual visits and court hearings, CASA volunteers and child welfare professionals are committed to keeping the focus on foster youth and making sure this crisis does not magnify the trauma already endured.
Let us remember the challenges that foster youth face every day and pledge to help them succeed.
Your role can be big or small – become a CASA volunteer, a mentor or support a child-focused agency. At the very least, join the conversation and engage friends, family and colleagues in a discussion about the obstacles facing foster youth and the ways that our community can work together to provide a support system for them.
Most importantly, understand that children enter foster care through no fault of their own and the challenges that lead them into care affect every social, economic and geographic community. No one is immune, and no one should face these challenges alone – especially a child.
Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for Children’s mission to speak on behalf of abused and neglected children is central to fulfilling society’s most fundamental obligation to protect a child’s right to be safe, treated with respect and to help them reach their fullest potential. For more information about CASA, visit AtlanticCapeCASA.org.