Two residents join CASA ranks to advocate for children

04 Apr 2019 | 01:26

    WEST MILFORD - Two township residents became advocates for children as part of the county's CASA program on March 22, Passaic County announced.
    On Friday, March 22, 20 new Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers swore an oath to advocate for children in foster care at a swearing-in ceremony, presided over by Honorable Judge Imre Karaszegi, Jr. at the Passaic County Courthouse in Paterson, a press release said.
    According to the release, these 20 new CASAs will begin advocating for 25 children who have been abused or neglected and placed into the foster care system in Passaic County.
    In the history of Passaic County CASA, this is the greatest number of children being assigned advocates at one time, the release said.
    With their new CASA volunteers by their side, these children will be four times more likely to graduate from high school and spend eight months fewer in foster care.
    Without a CASA volunteer, a child has a 12–16% likelihood of re-entering foster care, according to the release.
    With a CASA by their side, there is only a 1-4% likelihood of that happening.
    Overall, CASA volunteers make sure that children in foster care do not fall through the cracks of an overburdened child welfare system and end up in a safe and permanent home, the release said.
    Honorable Judge Imre Karaszegi, Jr. shared his thoughts on the importance of CASA volunteers.
    “It’s about instilling hope for these kids,” Judge Karaszegi, Jr. said.
    The new Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocates are: Allison Crofoot of West Milford; Anjum Desai of Wayne; Anna Skowronska of Elmwood Park; Cherisa Burk of North Haledon, Craig McKim of Allendale, Elisea Torijano of Clifton; Fredy Villarreal of Wayne; Jocelyne Buller of River Edge, Joseph Cremona of Woodland Park, Joyce Neuss of Wayne, Karen Kaspirowicz-Craner of Little Falls; Klarissa Conyers of Paterson; Len Blaifeder of Wayne; MaCarmela Enriquez of Wayne; Onelly Weling of Cedar Grove; Patricia Dickman of Wayne; Patricia Schreiber of Ramsey; Sandy Theriault of West Milford; Sheree Kelly of Towaco; and Stephanie Karlin of Roseland.
    Next, the new CASA volunteers will meet with their assigned child or children (some CASAs work with siblings), begin to gather information on the case, and make recommendations to the Family Court judge regarding the child’s wellbeing, the release said.
    Also, equally important, the CASA volunteers will provide a consistent, caring adult that the child, or children, can count on.
    “Children in foster care experience a lot of upheaval,” Passaic County CASA Executive Director Erica Fischer-Kaslander said. “First the children are removed from their parents, their homes, and everything familiar and placed with strangers. CASA volunteers provide a constant, reliable person for the children while their lives are in turmoil.”
    For more information on becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer, visit www.passaiccountycasa.org,or call (973) 832-4002.
    Pros[ective volunteers can also attend a volunteer information session on Saturday, April 13 at 10 a.m. or Wednesday April 24 at 6 p.m.
    Both information sessions will be held at the Passaic County CASA office, which is located at 415 Hamburg Turnpike, Suite D2, in Wayne.