Child advocates cite birthday program for foster youth
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Union County’s 3rd annual Foster the Dream Gala at Galloping Hill Golf Course in Kenilworth in November was sold-out, as more than 240 attendees joined the festivities to celebrate the nonprofit’s advocacy work for children in foster care and honor several of its supporters, including Jane Hoffman and her organization, A Birthday Wish, which provides specially selected birthday gifts and cards for Union County’s foster children.
Hoffman launched A Birthday Wish in 2014 in partnership with CASA of Union County and the Tuesday Club of Westfield, took home the Honorable Jo-Anne B. Spatola Dream-Maker Award for her work to celebrate each child’s inherent worth on a day that should be as special as they are. Throughout the year, CASA of Union County provides a list of birthdays, special interests and wishes for the children it serves. Hoffman and her dream-makers step up to the challenge, delivering unique gifts, festively wrapped and finished with a personalized card – all ready for delivery to the youth by their very own CASA. A Birthday Wish continues to grow, now reaching foster children in other counties. Hoffman and her husband became adoptive parents in 2011, and A Birthday Wish came to life after a conversation with their three children on how to help kids in foster care.
CASA of Union County recruits, trains, supervises and supports community volunteers to serve as the eyes and ears of the judge, and the voice for children in foster care through no fault of their own. After training in Westfield, CASAs are sworn in by a family court judge and empowered by court order to speak to all parties in the child’s life: foster parents, teachers, doctors, therapists and more. CASAs regularly meet with their foster youth to ensure their needs are met and best interests remain priority. There are nearly 600 Union County children currently in foster care due to abuse, neglect or abandonment, and CASA of Union County serves 143 of them. Its goal is to secure one CASA for every foster child.
For details on ways to help Union County children in foster care, including information on CASA’s next advocate training class, visit www.casaofunioncounty.org or call 908-527-7040.