Annie Kang Sworn in as Foster Youth Advocate
CASA of Union County
The latest class of community members to step up and train as advocates for Union County foster youth have taken their oath before a Union County Superior Court Judge and are now ready to be matched to their case as the newest volunteers with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Union County. Among them is Annie Kang of Berkeley Heights.
The nonprofit, which began in Union County in 2005, recruits, trains, supports, and supervises volunteers to serve local child-victims removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or abandonment, and living in foster care. It is the only nonprofit serving as extra eyes and ears for Union County judges hearing youth cases.
Superior Court Judge Lara DiFabrizio presided over the swearing-in ceremony via Zoom; once matched to their youth or sibling set, advocates will begin putting their 30 hours of training into practice. Kang was joined by fellow classmates Jenn White and Alayne Morgenthal of Westfield, and Kelly Ryan of Garwood.
“I am honored to be a CASA volunteer and hope to make an impact. I would like to be the voice for the child that I represent to empower and fight for all that he/she deserves,” says Kang.
Volunteers need no special prior background or experience to serve as advocates; each undergoes a thorough training process and is supported by CASA staff. Successful advocates bring with them varied life experiences and professional backgrounds. No matter the age of the youth to whom they are assigned, advocates’ commitment to being a consistent presence – many foster youth experience a revolving door of professionals in addition to the separation from family members – and ensuring needs are identified and recommendations are made to the judge and stakeholders, the trajectory of a child’s life can be changed for the better.
Upon being court-ordered to a case, the CASA volunteer has access to the youth, foster parents, doctors, caseworkers, therapists, and teachers in order to identify and report to the judge any concerns and needs in order to protect best interests.
The organization remains committed to serving every Union County youth in foster care; to do that, more community volunteers are needed to step up and train as an advocate for a local child-victim who could range from birth to age 21.
Contact Lucia at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on upcoming information sessions, how to join a training class, and all the ways you can Change a Child’s Story.