Local native named Volunteer of the Month as child advocate

Aug 01 2018 | 12:27 PM

Kathleen Ronan had just graduated from nursing school and was starting her career when she came across Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) on the website VolunteerMatch.
The West Milford native realized that in addition to giving back in her new role as a nurse, she still had more to give to others.
Fast forward a year and a half later. Ronan, one of Passaic County CASA’s youngest volunteer advocates, was named Passaic County CASA’s Volunteer of the Month for July.
In her role as a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer, Ronan works one-on-one with a child who has been removed from home due to abuse and/or neglect.
Ronan advocates for the child’s needs and gathers information from the family, caretakers, teachers, doctors, and caseworkers in order to make informed recommendations to the family court about the child’s future.
Ronan developed a special bond with the child she advocates for, whom she has known since the child was six months old.
She also places great value on the legal dimensions of being a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer, and sees herself playing an important role in the court proceedings.
“It can be a lot of back-and-forth with the lawyers,” Ronan said. “But at the end of the day, there is a child.”
She sees it as her job to remind everyone of the unique child being discussed, whose individuality can sometimes get lost in the legal shuffle.
Ronan has a special ability to manage responsibilities, a gift for empathy, and a seemingly endless desire to help others.
She also has a special place in her large heart for children. As a nurse she works with adults, she sees being a CASA volunteer advocate as a way to continue working with children.
“I can’t see myself not doing this,” Ronan said.
For information about Passaic County CASA and the volunteer program, visit www.passaiccountycasa.org or e-mail Jessica Mickley at jessica@passaiccountycasa.org.
Passaic County CASA is a nonprofit organization that recruits, screens, trains, and supervises volunteers to “Speak Up for a Child” removed from home due to abuse or neglect.
CASA is the only program in New Jersey that uses trained volunteers to work one-on-one with children, ensuring that each child receives needed services and achieves permanency in a safe, nurturing home.
Last year, over 600 youth went through the Passaic county foster care system. However, because of a limited number of volunteers, only 25 percent of them were fortunate to benefit from a CASA.
For information, visit www.passaiccountycasa.org.