Christine Larrabee Sworn In as CASA Volunteer for Foster Youth

(above) Christine Larrabee of Cranford was sworn in as a CASA volunteer on June 11th, 2024. She will be assigned to work with children living in foster care through no fault of their own, advocating for their best interests and ensuring their needs are met while in the child welfare system.
Courtesy photo

Christine Larrabee Sworn In as CASA Volunteer

Child Focus

Christine Larrabee of Cranford was sworn in as a CASA volunteer on June 11th alongside training classmates Patience Opaola of Linden, Loretta Gadson of West Orange, Elaine Anderson of Summit, Kathleen Oates-Niles of Westfield, and Robert Tracy of Cresskill.

Union County Superior Court Judge Rosalba Comas presided over the swearing-in of the newly trained volunteers, and each can now be assigned to work with children living in foster care through no fault of their own, advocating for their best interests and ensuring their needs are met while in the child welfare system.

“I have wanted to be a CASA volunteer for 25 years and life always got in the way,” shared Larrabee. “I now have the time and wanted to dedicate it to something I believe so strongly about. From growing up with foster siblings, to working as an attorney in the child welfare field, to dealing with a child with special educational needs and, finally, wanting to advocate and be the voice of a child going through an incredibly difficult experience – this is why I went through the CASA training and now eagerly await meeting a child in need of a consistent presence in their life. It will be an honor to be that person.”

The nonprofit organization Child Focus operates CASA of Passaic and Union Counties, and its goal is to provide a CASA volunteer for each of the more than 250 child-victims in Union County foster care. Currently, just 30 percent of these vulnerable infants, children, and teens have the continuity and support of a CASA volunteer serving as extra eyes and ears for judges hearing their cases. The need is critical for additional volunteers to step up and serve waiting children.

“We are proud to welcome this new group of volunteers to the CASA family,” said Erica Fischer-Kaslander, Executive Director of Child Focus. “These individuals have taken concrete action to make a difference in the lives of children who have experienced immense trauma, having been removed from home through no fault of their own, often due to abuse or neglect. We look forward to working with our new advocates as they serve these vulnerable youth and urge more community members to follow their example by volunteering to support children in need.”

Judge Comas expressed her gratitude for the CASA program and the volunteers’ commitment to the children they serve. “If I really want to know what’s happening with a child I listen to the CASA worker, because they are 100% in tune with everything that the child needs, and everything that’s happening in the child’s life,” she shared. “Their job is to look out for the kids, represent the children’s interest, and make sure that all of their needs are being addressed. It’s not just whether they need clothes or whether they need toys, it’s the bond. It’s what they need emotionally, it’s someone they can count on.”

Since caseworkers, attorneys, and foster homes are ever-changing, the CASA volunteer – or advocate – is a much-needed constant in a child’s life, committing to work with the child until they reach permanency in a stable home and the case closes. Children assigned a CASA volunteer are more likely to receive services, spend less time in the foster system, and experience significantly better outcomes than those without an advocate. 

Becoming a CASA requires no special skills or background in child welfare. Child Focus provides thorough training on the ins and outs of advocating for abused and neglected children, and volunteers are fully supported by CASA program staff. Volunteers visit the children at least monthly and get to know the people in the child’s life, such as foster parents, biological parents, teachers, therapists, and attorneys in order to make unbiased recommendations to the family court judge that support the child’s best interests.

There is an urgent need for additional community members to speak up for abused and neglected children. The first step to becoming an advocate is to attend an information session. Upcoming sessions will be held Monday, July 8 at 5:30 p.m. at the Elizabeth Public Library (Elmora Branch), 740 W Grand St, Elizabeth, NJ 07202; Thursday, July 11 at 5:30 p.m. at the Rahway Public Library, 2 City Hall Plaza in Rahway; Thursday July 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Union County Colleen Fraser Building, 300 North Avenue East in Westfield; or Monday July 1 at 10 a.m., Monday July 15 at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday July 24 at 12 p.m., and Wednesday July 31 at 5:30 p.m. at the Wayne Child Focus office, 415 Hamburg Turnpike, Suite D2. Register now at


Child Focus prioritizes the needs and well-being of infants, children and teens impacted by, or at risk of, abuse or neglect by amplifying their voices and working toward lasting, permanent solutions that address their unique situations and provide support needed to thrive. This critical work is accomplished through three distinct but complementary programs: CASA of Passaic and Union Counties, NJ Safe Babies Court Team, and the Open Door Store. For more information about Child Focus, visit

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