CASA Volunteers Needed Now More than Ever
COLTS NECK, NJ – – Child abuse and neglect is likely on the rise in the face of this pandemic, as families are put under more financial and emotional stress. Children are no longer in the public eye—they are not at schools or daycare, or in other locations where caring individuals would be able to spot signs of abuse. One group of volunteers in Monmouth County is working hard to ensure that abuse and neglect do not go unnoticed.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are community members who volunteer with CASA for Children of Monmouth County. They work with children in the child welfare system who have already experienced abuse or neglect. They meet with children in person at least monthly, and provide information to judges that helps them make the most well-informed decisions about each child.
These visits provide an opportunity for CASA volunteers to check in on children’s safety and well-being. But right now, meeting in person with the children they advocate for is difficult or impossible. This means it is harder for them to gauge what is going on in children’s lives, and their needs.
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These volunteers are working with program staff to find creative ways to continue to meet with children. Some are meeting via face time and skype and others are helping children remotely with homework and even just reading them stories over the phone. All volunteers are still submitting reports to the court but instead of attending the hearings in-person, they are being dialed in telephonically to share any knowledge they have on the child and their needs.
“While none of these is not a grand solution, this kind of creativity is what will make a real difference in children’s lives,” said Cindi Van Brunt, Executive Director. “We need volunteers now more than ever, and are encouraging all community members to join with us either by volunteering or by helping us ensure children are safe during this time of national crisis.” To learn more about how you can make a difference in the life of an abused or neglected child here in our community, contact the CASA program by calling 732-460-9100 or emailing [email protected] You can also learn more at www.casaofmonmouth.org.
If readers suspect a child is in immediate danger, they should contact the police or call 9-1-1. They can also contact the Child Abuse Hotline via phone at 1-877-NJ-ABUSE to report abuse.