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.