SOMERS POINT — The Honorable M. Susan Sheppard swore in 14 Atlantic and Cape May County residents as Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers on Aug. 27 at Greate Bay Country Club.
The graduation ceremony was the culmination of 35 hours of instruction in child advocacy, the family court system and cultural competency. As CASA volunteers, they will meet with and advocate on behalf of children and youth living in the foster care system and recommend resources and services regarding the young people's education, medical and overall wellbeing. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the children attain safe, permanent homes as quickly as possible.
The new CASA volunteers are Carolyn Kelly, of Galloway Township; Thomas Levine, of Galloway; Neil Elsohn, of Lower Bank; Nancy Cohen, of Margate; Karen Bailey, of Pleasantville; Barbara Paughm of Galloway; Charles Marshall, of Absecon; Elva Thomas, of Galloway; Charles Morgenweck, of Marmora; Lynette Rodriguez, of Ventnor; Gina Briguglio Manning, of Egg Harbor Township; Beverlee Masters, of Somers Point; Sangeetta Appel, of Linwood; and Sonia Gandhi, of Galloway.
“We are so thankful that these individuals stepped forward to take the role of advocate for children living in foster care,” said Director of Program Services Jennifer Valentine. “Their advocacy will have a profound effect on the lives of children and youth in our community. Unfortunately, too many children enter foster care every year. These new CASA volunteers are starting a journey that will help change the stories of the children they meet and in the process their lives will be changed as well.”
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 CASA's information sessions held monthly at the CASA office at 321 Shore Road and in the community.
For more information call 609-601-7800 or see AtlanticCapeCASA.org.