Choose a New Year Resolution that has Purpose, Help Local Foster Kids

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New year, new you!! Most people make a resolution to live a healthier life or maybe a more meaningful life. Both can be achieved by volunteering with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)!

Over the past two decades there has been a growing body of research that indicates volunteering provides individual health benefits in addition to social ones. Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression later in life than those who do not volunteer. In addition to health benefits, volunteering helps social skills and build connections with others, strengthen communities, helps build confidence, learn new skills and more. Volunteering Adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. High blood pressure is an important indicator of health because it contributes to heart disease, stroke, and premature death.

Commit to volunteering with CASA as your New Year Resolution and prepare to experience one rewarding volunteer opportunity. This CASA is part of a national network of community-based, non-profit organizations that recruit, screen, train, and supervise volunteers to “Speak Up for a Child” removed from home due to abuse or neglect. CASA works one-on-one with an abused or neglected child, advocating for his or her best interests and working towards achieving permanency in a safe, nurturing home as soon as possible. Our vision is to have a safe and loving home for every child.

Over 1,400 abused and neglected children in our three counties are currently waiting on the critical voice of a volunteer advocate. Each year, hundreds of children in Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties are removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect. These children have experienced terrible trauma, and their lives are turned upside down.  Through no fault of their own, these abused children have become a part of an overburdened child welfare system. They deserve a voice in the courtroom. They need a CASA volunteer!

No experience needed, just the passion to help children. Our main volunteer opportunity is our Special Advocate, which requires a minimum of 10 hours a month, depending on the severity and/or stage of the case. If this type of commitment is not feasible at the moment, there are other volunteer opportunities available! Check out the list below!

 

  • Special Advocate: Advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children who are struggling in foster care. Special Advocates receive thirty hours of training and then meet with their children on a regular basis. After conducting a thorough investigation, advocates present recommendations to the children’s judge, advocating for their best interest.  View our training schedule here! Fill out our online application here.
  • Social Advocate: We take advantage of social media and we are asking our supporters to do the same! Spread the word about CASA by liking us on Facebook, joining our “CASA Social Volunteers” Facebook group for special call to actions and follow our Twitter and Instagram feed.
  • Community Advocate: Use the unique connection you have with your community to inform the community about CASA and the need for children in foster care to have a voice. These unique connection include your workplace, church, family, friends, and/or groups. Invite them to participate in our annual events such as our Go Blue Fundraiser and Superhero 5k.
  • Administrative Advocate: Use any special skills or talents you may have to assist the CASA staff with research, public relations, outreach, and more.
  • Event Committee Member: Join our event committee and help CASA plan and organize events.
  • Donate: It costs approximately $1,300 a year (or $108 a month) to advocate for one child. Even with volunteer advocates there are costs associated with: volunteer training, support and administration costs, volunteer appreciation and outreach cost. View an infographic that breaks down the costs and why you should care.
  • Donate In-Kind Donations: We have an ongoing duffel bag project and courtroom bags in need of replenishing throughout the year. Learn more about them here.

Contact us with any questions or interest Phone: 856-521-0734 or email at: jon.casacgs@gmail.com

 

 

 

Take the time to read a recent success story that involved four children from Salem County who was reunified with their family with the help from their CASA:

Andrea, Sebastian, Aidan, and Evan were removed from their home after the Division received a report that Andrea had head lice for the fourth time in a year. It was determined that the children’s home had inconsistent access to water and electric, and the parents were involved in truancy issues with the school district regarding Andrea’s poor attendance record. There was also a history of missed medical and dental appointments for the children. The children were separated and placed in the care of two resource families.

 

The CASA advocate met with all of the children first to determine their needs. Within the first week of being assigned to the case, the advocate had met with everyone involved. The father worked full-time and wasn’t involved in the litigation as much as the mother, who, along with the named issues for the referral, was also taking part in a step-down methadone clinic. When she met with the mother, she realized that despite the large obstacles, there was so much potential for this family to be repaired and directed the mom to contact the Family Strengthening Network (FSN) to allow her time to focus on the children while the family advocate worked to aid the mother in repairing her broken life.

 

The CASA advocate went beyond the average responsibilities of an advocate and attended the doctor’s visits with the children, stayed late in the evening to assist Andrea with her homework, and took the time to truly observe the children’s environments so she could fully grasp the nature of their needs. Meanwhile, the family advocate from FSN worked with mom on two major goals: Finding independent housing for her and her children and obtain her GED. Between the advocates showing that a bright future was truly within reach, their support, and mom’s dedication, mom was able to accomplish her two goals, in addition to moving forward to set more. There were a few setbacks as mom is also a recovering addict, and would at times feel defeated and miss a few appointments. But, with that being said, the support system never wavered.

 

Her children’s CASA advocate was consistently there reporting the children’s progress and their desire to be reunited with their mom. At the final hearing, the judge took a moment as he was closing and personally thanked the CASA advocate for her indefinite dedication to the children and their future with their family. The children came home that afternoon to a new home and new life. The advocate remains in contact with the family and reports that they have recently added a pet to the family to celebrate mom’s new job at a local dental office.

 

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