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Join the Village of a Child in Foster Care

As cliche as the saying has become, there is truth in the saying, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Every child, regardless of the origin of their birth or the circumstances of their childhood does need a community of caring, supportive adults to serve as a role model to guide them into successful adulthood. Some children are blessed with large extended families to fulfill this role beyond the nurturing received from their parents. Other parents rely on a collection of friends and neighbors to be the “village” for their child- still loving and caring for that child as if they were blood. 

What happens when the village that a child is born into isn’t strong enough to support them long term? When a child’s parents do not have a strong support system to fall back on when needed? Or worse, when a child is abused or neglected to a point that they can’t stay in the family they were born into?  Ideally, we’d love to say this is when the village steps in to help and care for the child. In many cases, this can and does happen, however, there are hundreds of children in foster care each year in Passaic County because they did not have a village of caring supportive adults to rely on when home because too unsafe to remain.

Once a child is in foster care, the need for a village grows even more. They are suddenly thrown into a world of caseworkers, attorneys, court hearings, unfamiliar homes, foster parents, separation from siblings, and more. A child needs these people, but also needs someone to help guide them through the chaos, stay with them along the journey and ensure that the child does not get lost in the paperwork. A CASA volunteer is a key member of a child’s village while they are in the foster care system and a person who will accomplish exactly these things. A CASA will ensure that the child does not fall through the gaps of the system, has a voice both in court, at school and in the child welfare system. A CASA volunteer walks alongside the child until a safe, and permanent home—one that ideally comes with a strong supportive village is found again.

This year, can you help join the village of a child in foster care as their CASA volunteer? Click here to take the first step by attending one of our upcoming orientation sessions.

Congressman Bill Pascrell Celebrates CASA Executive Director as an Angel in Adoption®

Erica Fischer-Kaslander, CASA Executive Director To Be Recognized at National Event in Washington, D.C.

 Congressman Bill Pascrell will celebrate local resident and nonprofit leader, Erica Fischer-Kaslander as a 2016 Angels in Adoption® awardee for her outstanding advocacy of adoption and foster care issues. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), which orchestrates the Angels in Adoption® Program, will honor Ms. Fischer-Kaslander at an awards ceremony on September 20 and gala on September 21 in Washington, D.C. Ms. Fischer-Kaslander is being honored for her dedicated advocacy work to advance the practice of child welfare policy for children awaiting adoption in the local Passaic County foster system as well as her passion for championing the cause of the most challenging children’s cases. Ms. Fischer-Kaslander has served as the Executive Director of Passaic County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children since the organization’s founding in 2007.

Ms. Fischer-Kaslander’s passion channels her personal background as she has many members of the adoption triad in her family. After working in private and international adoption for several years, she found her passion at CASA where they advocate for over six hundred children who go through foster care each year in Passaic County. Under her guidance, the CASA program in Passaic County has grown from non-existing to guiding over sixty children who were unable to be reunified with family to adoptive homes since the program was founded. Over 400 children remain in the foster care system in Passaic County each year without a volunteer advocate to help guide them to a safe and permanent home due to limited funding. Ms. Fischer-Kaslander continues to do advocacy work for international adoption issues and is on staff at Madison Adoption Associates.

The Angels in Adoption® Program is CCAI’s signature public awareness event and provides an opportunity for all members of the U.S. Congress to honor the good work of their constituents who have enriched the lives of foster children and orphans in the United States and abroad. This year, more than 140 “Angels” are being honored through the Angels in Adoption® Program.

“The Angels in Adoption® Program is a unique annual opportunity in the nation’s Capital to shine a well-deserved spotlight on the power of adoption and the unspoken heroes who have made the dream of a family a reality for children. Since the program’s inception, over 2,500 Angels have come to Washington to share their firsthand adoption experiences with Members of Congress, highlighting its joys, as well as the barriers encountered in the process,” said Becky Weichhand, Executive Director at CCAI. “Members of Congress are then able to use their new experiential understanding of these issues to create policy improvements that better support these children and the families that open their hearts and homes to them.”

In addition to the more than 150 Angels from around the country, National Angels in Adoption® honorees will be recognized at the gala for their dedication and commitment nationally and internationally to child welfare on a grand scale. This year’s National Angels in Adoption® honoree is the Minnesota Vikings. Former National Angels include Korie and Willie Robertson, Shonda Rhimes, Deborra-Lee Furness Jackman, First Lady Laura Bush, Patti LaBelle, Jane Seymour, Muhammad Ali, the late Dave Thomas, Steven Curtis Chapman, Bruce Willis, Alonzo Mourning, Rhea Perlman and Kristin Chenoweth.

CCAI is a 501(c)3 nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the tens of thousands of orphans and foster children in the United States and the millions of orphans around the world in need of permanent, safe and loving homes through adoption. CCAI was created in 2001 by the active co-chairs of the bicameral, bipartisan Congressional Coalition on Adoption, one of Congress’ premiere caucuses. The goal of the caucus is to eliminate policy barriers that hinder children from realizing their basic right of a family and more effectively raise Congressional and public awareness about adoption.

The Angels in Adoption® Program was established in 1999 as a Congressional press conference to honor outstanding individuals. Since then, the program has developed into a yearlong public awareness campaign, culminating in an extraordinary awards gala and celebration in Washington, D.C.  CCAI does not receive any government funding and relies on the generous support of foundations, corporations, and individuals to accomplish this mission. For more information, visit www.ccainstitute.org or www.angelsinadoption.org.

Passaic County CASA is based in Wayne, NJ and has a corps of over 80 professionally trained volunteers who serve as the voice for child victims of abuse and neglect while they are in the foster care system. Visit www.passaiccountycasa.org to learn more.