SOMERS POINT — Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children was awarded a two-year, $50,000 Mentoring Grant from the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association for Children.

The funds will help recruit, train and assign new volunteers to represent the best interests of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. The mentoring grant will focus advocacy efforts to at-risk and underserved youth, especially those affected by the opioid crisis — helping them increase their level of connectivity with community and family, improve educational outcomes and reach stable home placements.

“We are so grateful for this financial commitment by National CASA. This grant comes at the perfect time, when we are beginning to expand mentoring services for older youth,” said Executive Director Angie Waters. “We cannot expect older youth, many who have spent years in foster care, to be able to leave foster care and succeed, when they have not experienced the consistency, support and guidance that comes from living in a stable household. By expanding our service to include mentoring, we will help give these youth another tool to help them succeed.”

The federal grant funds distributed through National CASA are provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, U.S. Department of Justice, as authorized under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990. In 2018, National CASA was awarded nearly $10 million in federal grants.

CASA volunteers meet with everyone on the child’s case, including teachers, caseworkers, counselors and health care providers and gather information into objective court reports. Each report, submitted to the family courts at every hearing, contains recommendations for services and resources regarding the child’s education, medical and overall wellbeing.

Individuals interested in becoming a CASA volunteer should attend one of the information sessions held monthly at the CASA office, 321 Shore Road and in the community. For more information call 609-601-7800 or see AtlanticCapeCASA.org.

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