By Erica Fischer-Kaslander
Passaic County CASA for Children Executive Director
Over the last fiscal year, Passaic County CASA was able to provide a record 204 children with a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate. As we celebrate the wonders of summer this year, I have to stop and think about all the children that are enjoying it in safe and stable homes this year thanks in part to the work done by their CASA volunteers and supporters of the program. There are no limits to the work a CASA does to ensure the wellbeing of a child in the foster care system. Volunteers have done such a diverse list of things recently, it's impossible to chose the best to share with you. In the interest of time and space, I will share this short tale with you.
10 year old Nazmir was a difficult child. Everyone agreed that he was out of control. Teachers didn't want him in their class, foster parents didn't want him in their house and caseworkers groaned when his name was discussed. His CASA, however, was persistent. She visited regularly until he talked to her instead of throwing a tantrum. After many weeks of visits, she was the only one that he would easily converse with besides his siblings.
Nazmir started sharing his feelings, which his CASA shared with the caseworker, Judge and therapist. She convinced Nazmir to also talk to the therapist, who in turn was able to properly diagnose him. His CASA explained to the Judge what Nazmir's true needs were and shared letters from his teachers discussing what they felt he needed in order to succeed in school. Despite the lack of consent from absent biological parents, the Judge was able to order that Nazmir receive the needed therapy and treatment. This summer is a good summer for Nazmir. For the first time in a long time, he is happy. Everyone likes being around him and he likes himself. Thanks to his CASA.