New advocates for sbused children sworn in

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  • From left, Trainer Julie Barros, Josie Scanlan, Jeff Jones, Tracey Biedron, Olivia Bakunas, Jaime Kaiser, The Honorable Michael Hubner, Cynthia Coster, Susanne Budofsky, Sandy Nussbaum-Giercyk, Fran Cirelli, Darlene Dibble, Dianne Hartshorn, Beth Vetter, Linda Baker, and Dina Shah. Photo courtesy of CASA

— On October 18, 2017 a group of community volunteers were sworn in as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) by The Honorable Michael E. Hubner. CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties, a local non-profit organization, trains and supervises community volunteers to advocate for the best interests of children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

The new volunteers have made the extraordinary commitment to “speak up” for these vulnerable children in court and to ensure that they receive the medical and educational resources they need to thrive, and most importantly that they find permanent, safe, and nurturing homes in a timely manner.

Family and friends gathered in the Morris County Courthouse to watch the volunteers take an oath agreeing to advocate for the best interest of the child and to perform the role of a judiciary volunteer. The new volunteers include Josie Scanlan (Randolph), Jeff Jones (Sussex), Tracey Biedron (Far Hills), Olivia Bakunas (Green Village), Jaime Kaiser (Clifton), Cynthia Coster (Vernon), Susanne Budofsky (Sparta), Sandy Nussbaum-Giercyk (Denville), Fran Cirelli (Randolph), Darlene Dibble (Wantage), Dianne Hartshorn (Hopatcong), Beth Vetter (Whippany), Linda Baker (Chatham), and Dina Shah (East Hanover).

CASA volunteers participate in an extensive 36 hour training program before officially being sworn in to be assigned a child in the foster care system. The CASA volunteers ensure that these vulnerable children receive the educational and medical resources they need to thrive and that they find safe, permanent, loving homes as soon as possible.

CASA volunteers visit with the child regularly, attend court hearings, school meetings, and meet with all parties involved in the child’s case. The volunteers report their findings to the court and make recommendations for the child’s best interest.

“Our volunteers pledge to stay with each child until the case is closed, and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home," said Lisa Barsky Firkser, Executive Director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of Morris and Sussex Counties. "The advocate is often the only consistent adult presence in the child’s life.”

About CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties

CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties is part of a statewide network of community-based, non-profit programs that recruit, screen, train, and supervise volunteers to “Speak Up for a Child.” These children have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. CASA is the only program in New Jersey that uses trained volunteers to work one‐on‐one with children, ensuring that each one gets the services needed and achieves permanency in a safe, nurturing home. The next volunteer information session for Morris and Sussex Counties is on Saturday, November 18 at 10:00 am. Visit or call 973-998-7590 for more information about CASA of Morris and Sussex Counties.

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