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Essex County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is an independent, court-authorized, non-profit organization which works through professionally trained and supervised volunteers to promote the welfare of children in Essex County, NJ who have been removed from their homes because of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. CASA serves as a child's "Voice in Court," working to insure that needed services and assistance are made available while helping to move the child toward a safe and permanent home.
The primary objective of a CASA Volunteer is to represent to the family court the interests of the abused or neglected child to whom he or she is assigned. A CASA Volunteer makes a critical difference in the lives of these children by getting to know the child(ren) they are working with, seeking out current information about their circumstances and making recommendations regarding services for the child and the best permanency plan for that child. Whether this plan is reunification with parents or relatives or adoption, a CASA Volunteer diligently remains focused on the child's need for permanent placement. CASA Volunteers come from all walks of life, all kinds of educational, ethnic, and social backgrounds. no prior experience is necessary. On average a CASA Volunteer devotes 10 to 15 hours a month to a case. Each new Volunteer receives 33 hours of intital training. The training schedule is available on the website or from the CASA office. Attendance at all sessions of a training class is mandatory in order to be sworn in as a CASA. Following the completion of training, volunteers are sworn in by a family court judge.