Volunteers give foster children a voice

Photo Courtesy of Jess Earl
From left are David Sotnick of Millburn, Sally Unsworth of South Orange, Laticia Watson of East Orange, Janet Schiller of Glen Ridge, Lee Wilson of Glen Ridge, Carol Ann Holland of West Orange, Jaimie Slosberg of Livingston, Julie Murphy of Livingston, Ivy Bernstein of Millburn, Stephanie Brown of West Orange, Dan Zaccardo of Livingston, Sharyn Taylor of Montclair and Tiffany Zapico of West Orange.

ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — CASA for Children of Essex County welcomed 13 new advocates as they were sworn in by Essex County Superior Court Judge Nora Grimbergen on Tuesday, Feb. 19. Friends and family gathered at the Wilentz Court Complex to see the volunteers take an oath promising to advocate for the best interests of children in foster care.

Sworn in were East Orange’s Laticia Watson; Glen Ridge’s Janet Schiller and Lee Wilson; Livingston’s Jaimie Slosberg, Julie Murphy and Dan Zaccardo; Millburn’s David Sotnick and Ivy Bernstein; Montclair’s Sharyn Taylor; South Orange’s Sally Unsworth; and West Orange’s Carol Ann Holland, Stephanie Brown and Tiffany Zapico.

The newly appointed advocates join a community of more than 200 volunteers from the community committed to giving foster children a voice in the court system. CASA volunteers act as an extra set of eyes and ears for family court judges and speak up for these children to ensure they receive the services and support they need, and that their time in care is as short as possible.

Of the 1,700 children in foster care within Essex County last year, nearly 600 were served by CASA. More volunteers are needed to work with more than 1,100 youth who still need a CASA advocate.

There are no prerequisites for becoming a CASA volunteer other than being at least 21 years of age, clearing an extensive background screening and successfully completing 33 hours of training.

For more information about becoming an advocate or other ways to help the organization reach more foster youth, contact Jess at 973-622-4831 or jearl@casaessex.org.