EVENT: OceanFirst Charity Challenge
COURT APPOINTED SPECIAL ADVOCATES OF OCEAN COUNTY INC wrote -
About Our Organization
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Ocean County is an independent, non-profit organization whose mission is to advocate for the best interest of children in foster care that have been removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect. The vision of CASA is to provide a volunteer advocate for every child in foster care in Ocean County.
A child in foster care, by no fault of their own, is taken away from much more than their home and family. The child becomes a part of a very complicated child welfare system. When an abused child is placed in foster care, they are assigned multiple Caseworkers, a Law Guardian, and a Family Court Judge. A CASA volunteer is appointed by the Judge on the most complicated cases to ensure the child’s medical, educational, and emotional needs are met while in foster care.
CASA provides volunteers with 30 hours of training and ongoing supervision while they assist each child. Volunteers commit to 20 hours of service each month to make child visits, attend meetings, appear in court, and speak up for the child as they navigate the child welfare system. A CASA Volunteer is the one compassionate, consistent and caring advocate that will make an investigation into the changes involving the child’s life. The volunteer will prepare court reports to the Judge with recommendations that will assist the Judge as they are making the best decisions on behalf of the child. The CASA Volunteer serves as the child’s voice in court that is often unheard.
A foster child faces a multitude of problems while in foster care due to the lack of integration and coordination of efforts and services that exists inside and outside of the Family Court System. This directly contributes to delays in case handling and decision making that are not optimal for the child who is waiting for their forever home. Too often, parties that are involved in these decisions on a child's permanent do not share information. This further contributes to children waiting in foster care while lingering court proceedings extend long periods of time. Research findings report that a foster child with a CASA of their own will have reduced time in the court system by up to 12 months. Not to mention, the CASA ensures health records are transferred, educational needs are being met, basic needs such as adequate clothing and food are given and overall the volunteer is working to improve the child has a better quality of life.
Ocean County Demographics
Currently, there are nearly 700 children in out-of-home placements in Ocean County due to issues of abuse and neglect. Children who have been removed from their homes are victims of physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect and/or sexual abuse and are placed in foster care, group homes, or residential facilities. In many cases, these at-risk children have been raised in environments filled with poverty, substance & alcohol abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, or a combination thereof.
Hurricane Sandy wiped out homes of many families in Ocean County and caused financial and emotional strain on families who were already struggling to make ends meet. This combined with the fact that the heroin addiction has become so widespread in Ocean County has caused a skyrocket in the reports of abuse and neglect, making it the county with the most referrals.
How You Can Help
CASA is currently in the process of shifting to a Peer Coordinator Model, where seasoned volunteers become supervisors for new volunteers. Currently, CASA of Ocean County has only two Case Supervisors. Utilizing volunteers with significant experience as Case Supervisors will allow the staff time to attend trainings, recruit new volunteers, forge bonds with other organizations, and research new programs to assist our youth. The shift to the Peer Coordinator Model is crucial in reaching our goal to advocate for all 700 children in placement in Ocean County. Please help us reach our goal to serve these children who have been through so much.
Breakdown of Donations
$10-Buys diapers for an infant
$20-Buys training materials for a Peer Coordinator
$50-Buys training materials for a new volunteer
$100-Sponsors a child in foster care for one month
$300-Sponsors a child in foster care for 3 months
$600-Sponsors a child in foster care for 6 months
$1200-Sponsors a child in foster care for one year
CASA of Ocean County would like to thank our partners, supporters, board members, and volunteers.