The Bergen CASA Bulletin: 1st Quarter 2022
Who is a foster child?
A foster child could be any child from birth to 21 years old. They can be girls or boys or identify as LGBTQIA+. They are every race and ethnicity. Some have siblings, and some are only children. Some foster children struggle with mental health issues, some have chronic medical conditions, and some are healthy. Foster children come from every socioeconomic group and from every town in Bergen County.
All foster children have experienced trauma which we call ACES – Adverse Child Experiences. ACES impacts children differently and to different degrees depending on their resilience. Regardless, ACES make our children’s lives much harder. The good news is that virtually every foster child in Bergen County is appointed a CASA to help ensure they get all of the help they need and deserve.
In the last six months we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of babies being referred to Bergen CASA. This is partly due to a rise in the number of children being born addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. When children are born addicted, they must be medically monitored. There also is a greater risk that these babies will be developmentally delayed and need early intervention services. To help, Bergen CASA has spearheaded a baby drive which you can read about in this newsletter.
Teenagers 14 years and older tend to remain in foster care longer. According to the Division of Child Protection and Permanency few people seek to foster or adopt teenagers and teens are less open to that option. Foster teens face further challenges as they can choose to sign themselves out of the system any time after age 18. And for those foster teens who opt to receive services until they are 21, few are sufficiently mature or independent enough to do well on their own. Helping teenagers and young adults successfully transition out of the system is an ongoing goal at CASA.