To the Editor:
Each year, more than 6,000 New Jersey children and teens live in foster care due to abuse or neglect; nearly 450 children are from Atlantic and Cape May counties.
For children to thrive despite abuse or neglect, resilience is the key. The most common factor in developing resilience, according to the Harvard Center on the Developing Child, is having a stable relationship with a supportive adult.
That is where Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children of Atlantic and Cape May Counties step in. We recruit, train, and support volunteers who get to know the children and their families and advocate for those children’s needs in court.
CASA volunteers are part of an expansive network of child welfare professionals, service agencies, and the court system that advocate for resources to improve outcomes for children living in foster care.
A stable relationship with a supportive adult – like a CASA volunteer - can help children do well even when faced with significant hardships. By developing trust and consistency with the children and advocating for their needs, CASA volunteers can make a major impact in mitigating the long-term harm from abuse or neglect. Because of this, we continue to have great hope for these youth despite the challenges they face.
Nearly 40 children in Atlantic and Cape May counties are currently waiting for their CASA volunteer to advocate for services that promote healing and build resilience. If you can see yourself in this important role, please consider this life-changing, and sometimes lifesaving, volunteer opportunity and become a CASA volunteer.
-KAREN DEROSA, Marmora