The end of summer and the start of a new school year is an exciting time for most children. But for some youngsters, the beginning of school could reveal a dark secret when signs of abuse and neglect these children have suffered over the summer are noticed by teachers, staff and other parents.
“Because children are subject to less adult supervision over the summer, it’s not uncommon for reports of suspected abuse and neglect to spike at the start of the school year,” said Cindi Van Brunt, executive director, CASA for Children of Monmouth County.
Many of the children who are confirmed as victims are removed from their homes and placed into foster care – often far from their friends, families and schools, according to a press release.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers from CASA for Children of Monmouth County are specially screened and trained to speak up for abused and neglected children who, through no fault of their own, end up in the foster care system.
“Being uprooted from their homes and families is scary for these children. We at CASA for Children of Monmouth County want to make sure they do not get lost in the overburdened foster care system,” Van Brunt said.
“For that reason, we need more people in our community to speak up and make sure these children’s voices are heard. We want to help ensure their stay in foster care is as short as possible and that they are placed in safe, loving homes quickly so they can begin to heal,” she said.
There are 431 children who go through the child protection system each year from Monmouth County, and only 110 CASA volunteers to advocate for their best interests, according to the press release.
“Too many children are forced to go through the chaos of moving through the child protection system feeling alone,” Van Brunt said. “CASA for Children of Monmouth County needs more volunteers to step up and be a voice for children who desperately need them.”
To help these children, CASA is seeking adults, 21 years and older, to act as advocates for children in foster care. A CASA volunteer is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to represent the best interests of a child in court, according to the press release.
CASA volunteers work one-on-one with an abused or neglected child, advocating for his or her best interests. Essentially, CASA volunteers “speak up” for these children in the court and child welfare systems, making sure they are safe and well cared for, are getting the services they need, and are placed in a permanent, safe, nurturing home as quickly as possible, according to the press release.
Individuals interested in volunteer opportunities may attend an information session on Sept. 3. Interested individuals are asked to RSVP for the 10 a.m. or 5:30 p.m. time slot.
Interested individuals may visit www.casaofmonmouth.org for upcoming information sessions and program details or contact Lynn Goelz at 732-460-9100 for more details.