In the state of NJ, every citizen, regardless of occupation, is a mandatory reporter of child abuse and/or neglect.
If you suspect someone is being abused or neglected, please call the state child welfare hotline at 1-877-NJ-ABUSE (1-877-652-2873)
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History of CASA
The first Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program started in 1978, by a Judge named David Soukop in Seattle, Washington. He realized that he was making far-reaching decisions about the lives of children without hearing from the unique perspective of the child. He began looking for an alternative to relying solely on the lawyers for the child, who were not only overworked but also not especially trained for dealing with children, and the underpaid social workers assigned to their cases that have too many cases to handle. Judge Soukop decided to train volunteers from the community to independently investigate the cases and make recommendations about what was in the best interest of the child.
News of the success of Judge Soukop's experiment spread like wildfire and CASA programs sprang up all over the United States. Currently there are over 900 CASA programs throughout the United States.
CASA for Children of Bergen County
Judge Ellen Koblitz, Presiding Judge of Bergen County's Family Court, contacted the state CASA association (CASA of NJ) in the spring of 2002. She recognized the enormous need for a CASA program to begin in Bergen County as soon as possible. After conducting community outreach in Bergen County, CASA of NJ held a series of informational meetings with the goal of recruiting a steering committee to develop a CASA program that would serve Bergen County's most vulnerable children. That steering committee transformed into a founding board for CASA for Children of Bergen County in the spring of 2003.
In Bergen County alone there are over four hundred children who have been removed from their homes and currently reside in foster homes, group homes, shelters, etc. These children come from every town in Bergen County and span across every race, ethnicity, religion and gender. These children have found themselves taken away from the only parents they have ever known, many times have been separated from their siblings, and almost always find themselves in a new town, and attending a new school.
CASA recruits, trains and then supervises community volunteers to advocate for children who are involved with the child welfare and family court systems. All of the children served by CASA have been removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect and are between the ages of birth to eighteen. CASA for Children of Bergen County's goal is to move these children towards safe and permanent homes as quickly as possible.