Home Hudson County Hudson County CASA: A Non-Profit Dedicated to Children in Foster Care

Hudson County CASA: A Non-Profit Dedicated to Children in Foster Care

by Jordan and Joelle Hernandez
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May is National Foster Care Awareness Month. One Hudson County chapter of a national organization is working to support the thousands of New Jersey children who are in foster care. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is a national non-profit organization dedicated to advocacy work for neglected and abused children and has been working in this space since 1976. The Hoboken Girl had a chance to connect with Beverly Savage, Executive Director of Hudson County CASA, to learn more about the foster care system in the United States, the experience of children living in this system, the work Hudson County CASA is doing to support their needs, and how the community can get involved. Read on to find out how to get involved in a meaningful way to provide quality of life to children in foster care through Hudson County CASA.

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The History

The United States Foster Care System was formalized in the 19th Century and was based on what was known as The Poor Laws in England. The system was meant to support families living in poverty by placing children in other homes as indentured servants. While the idea of this system was to improve the quality of life for these families, it often turned a blind eye to abuse, neglect, and poor conditions. The need for the foster care system became even more prevalent during the mid-1800s when disease epidemics left thousands of children without parents.

Fast forward to the present day, and the system has been updated numerous times with laws and restrictions put in place to protect children. While the system still has many flaws, it has come a long way from the very early days. Many of the issues today surround various racial groups as children of color are disproportionately represented in the foster care system and an alarming foster care to prison pipeline to name a few. “The U.S. Foster care system is imperfect, and many would call it broken. Its children are invisible to almost everyone except those who work in the child welfare system, the family court, and perhaps in schools,” Beverly shared with HG. Various organizations and support resources have been created to combat these issues, with CASA being one of the most well-established. She continued, “These children and their families are the victims of society’s worst ills: addiction, domestic violence, poverty, incarceration, poor schools, lack of affordable housing, and untreated mental illness.”

Read More: Jersey City Non-Profit Highlight: The York Street Project

CASA

Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, was founded in 1976 with the mission to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children. CASA supports children by providing dedicated advocates to look after their well-being in various areas. Many cases that CASA supports involve situations of parental neglect, drug or alcohol abuse, and inappropriate conduct that children witness from family members. In the past year, CASA has provided resources for more than 200 children. “The majority of cases are very serious, meaning the extent of the abuse and neglect is severe,” Beverly. shared

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Recently, CASA provided resources for eight-year-old Talia. Talia has had years of going back and forth between living with her mother, who suffers from drug addiction, and living with foster families. After trying to run away from home, CASA believed that it would be best for Talia to live with a foster family permanently. Thanks to CASA, the story is moving in a positive direction. “In family court, CASA argued that Talia should be removed once again from her mom and placed in a loving foster home. The judge listened to CASA and Talia is now happy and safe with her foster family,” Beverly shared.

 

 

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Getting Involved

The work that CASA does is made possible by dedicated volunteers who are assigned children who need the resources. This means that CASA relies on volunteers to make these efforts possible. “CASA works through trained community volunteers to ensure that needed services and assistance are made available to foster children while helping to move them toward safe and permanent homes,” Beverly shared.” She continued by sharing more about how volunteers make an impact. “Hudson County CASA volunteers are everyday people who make a direct impact in the lives of foster children. They are trusted, dedicated adults who seek to improve children’s well-being.”

Being a CASA volunteer is, undoubtedly, a major commitment, so those interested in getting involved should be sure this is something they can fully support. “This is a serious volunteer commitment with screening, training, regular court appearances, and of course, visiting the child. It is, however, one of the most rewarding and important roles played by a volunteer,” Beverly shared. All CASA volunteers must pass a rigorous screening and 30-hour training to be approved. Volunteers must also commit to volunteering until their case is closed, which typically takes around one year.

See More: Volunteering Opportunities in Essex County | Spring 2024

If committing to becoming a volunteer is not a good fit, CASA hosts various fundraising events throughout the year. “CASA always appreciates people who attend its events; its major fundraiser, Celebrate CASA is coming up on May 30th at Battello. The organization also holds a golf outing, a holiday appeal, dine-outs, and a wonderful toy drive at holiday time,” Beverly shared. Volunteers are needed to help plan and run these events, or individuals can purchase tickets to attend knowing that ticket sales financially support the organization.

Thousands of children, each year, rely on the national resources of CASA with hundreds of those benefitting from Hudson County CASA, specifically. Volunteers from the community make this work possible and getting involved can look many ways. Be sure to check out more about Hudson County CASA on the site here.

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