NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Until the end of this month, those interested may get the opportunity to advocate in court, this coming spring, for the best interests of a child in the foster care system living in Middlesex County.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA of Middlesex) is currently seeking volunteer advocates to speak up for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect and who are currently a part of the child welfare court system.
"The longer a child remains in the child welfare system, and the more times a child moves from home to home, the worse their chances of future success," reads an information guide published by CASA of New Jersey.
"With enabling legislation passed in 2010, CASA is the only entity authorized by State Statute to utilize trained volunteers to advocate for the best interests of children in placement."
Applicants must be at least 21 years old, pass a background check, and attend 30 hours of in-class training at the Middlesex Fire Academy in Sayreville. Applicants also go through an interview process with CASA program staff.
The application to work with CASA can be printed and sent to the CASA of Middlesex Office, located at 77 Church Street in New Brunswick.
Volunteers must be responsible and be able to dedicate anywhere from at least 5-15 hours each month to investigating several aspects of a child's life including their foster home and their school.
According to CASA, about 50,000 children are alleged to be victims of abuse or neglect in the State of New Jersey, and 13,000 of those children are removed from their homes, 30% of which do not return home for at least 3 years.
The organization says there are about 1,300 children whose parents' rights have been terminated and are legally free to be adopted, but remain without a permanent home and a "forever family."
A forever family, after having been carefully tested and approved by the State, is the adoptive family responsible for a child removed from their birth parents' home.
Training classes for CASA volunteers start Tuesday, March 31.
For more information, those interested can contact Senior Program Cordinator Colette Scozzafava by phone at (732) 246-4449, ext. 3, or by emailing [email protected].