About Bergen CASA
Since our beginnings in 2003, Bergen CASA has grown to serve approximately 200 children a year, from birth to age 21, who are in the child welfare system. These children have been taken from the only families they’ve ever known, due to abuse or neglect. Our mission is fulfilled, and our organization is run largely (95%) by volunteers who are the heart and soul of what we do, and the donors who provide financial support.
Bergen CASA effectively supports children who have experienced severe neglect or abuse often due to the use of illegal drugs by their parents. In 2019, over 50% were children of color and over 30% were Latinx. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people are over-represented in foster care, where they are more likely to experience discrimination, abuse, neglect and the risk of harm. (A 2019 study found 30.4 percent of youth in foster care identify as LGBTQ and 5 percent as transgender, compared to 11.2 percent and 1.17 percent of youth not in foster care).
In a perfect world every foster child would have a CASA. CASAs are able to consider a wide range of issues and challenges, making them uniquely positioned to help overburdened public systems identify and fulfill gaps in specific services. This includes: living arrangements, health, education, parental visitations, and permanency while respecting race, gender, religion, and culture. By investigating the problems a child is confronting, monitoring individual cases to determine whether Court orders have been followed, and advocating for changes to a child’s service plan, our advocates help increase a child’s access to health care services, therapy, educational services, and visitations with family members.