Every year more than half a million abused and neglected children are in need of safe, permanent, nurturing homes. Too many spend years moving from one temporary home to another. They have no family to call their own. They are more likely than other children to face homelessness, unemployment, even prison as adults. That's why CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is important. CASA was created to make sure the abuse and neglect these children originally suffered in the home doesn't continue as abuse and neglect at the hands of the system.
As trained advocates, CASA volunteers get to know children in foster care and talk with their caregivers, schools, therapists, and other professionals, in order to gather information about their wellbeing and advocate for them in court. CASA volunteers advocate for the appropriate services to be offered to the children and their families and assist the Court in determining the appropriate permanent plan for each child.
CASA of Middlesex County is a non-profit organization committed to advocating for the best interests of at risk children in out-of-home placement who are the victims of abuse and neglect. The CASA volunteer serves as the child's voice in court and is committed to moving the child toward a safe and permanent home.
The CASA program was first established in 1977 in Seattle, Washington by a family court judge. Shortly after this, CASA programs began to emerge throughout the United States, and in 1990, CASA became recognized as a national program with the passing of the Victims of Child Abuse Act. As CASA programs emerged throughout the United States so did CASA programs in New Jersey, and, in 1998, Court Rule 5:8C was adopted in New Jersey that sanctioned the appointment of a CASA volunteer to any case where the welfare of a child was an issue. With the support of CASA programs, leaders of the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) and the court system, and community members, CASA of New Jersey was established in 2000 to oversee a network of CASA programs in New Jersey. In 2006, CASA of Middlesex County was established to serve the children of Middlesex County, New Jersey.