Oakhurst, NJ – Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children of Monmouth County is celebrating the newest class of advocates that was sworn in on April 14. Family Court Judge, Hon. Teresa Kondrup Coyle, presided over the recent swearing-in ceremony via Zoom. This newest group of volunteers will work with the nonprofit organization in Monmouth County to advocate for the best interests of children removed from home due to abuse or neglect and placed in foster care.
Holmdel resident, Chip Joyce, was one of 23 community members who signed up with CASA of Monmouth to become official advocates on behalf of children in foster care. "I've been asking myself lately: What kind of person do I want to be, and do I want my son to see me as? One answer is that I want to be a protector of vulnerable children,” said Joyce. “I'm thankful to CASA for Children of Monmouth County for giving me the excellent training and opportunity to be the kind of person who stands up for a child in need. I know it's going to be trying, but I have no doubt it will be immensely rewarding."
Court Appointed Special Advocates, CASAs, are highly trained volunteers from the community who are assigned to work with children in the child welfare system. CASAs serve as the child’s “voice in court” to ensure the child’s needs are being met and to work towards a permanent, safe home. CASA ensures these children do not fall through the cracks of the child welfare system.
Currently, the organization is serving more than half of all Monmouth County foster children, with a goal to provide an advocate for every child in need. CASA of Monmouth is committed to their mission of advocacy, despite the pandemic. CASA facilitated the 30-hour virtual training to expand their advocacy base, following the same structure that was put into place last year due to the pandemic.
Director of Program Services, Lynn Goelz, said, “This exceptional group of volunteers dedicated several weeks of online training to become advocates for abused and neglected children that were placed in foster care. I am thrilled to have them on board to see how they can enrich the lives of the children they are assigned to.”
These advocates are a constant source of support for the children they work with. This month CASA volunteer, Tara Iannelli, closed her case with an adoption. Iannelli was assigned to the toddler’s case after she was placed in foster care. The toddler was adopted into a loving home thanks, in part, to her CASA volunteer.
“I was brought to tears with an overwhelming sense of happiness while witnessing her adoption. She was dressed like a princess, wearing a beautiful white lace dress and gold tiara,” said Iannelli. “The family home was decorated with balloons and a sign that had her name. I was overjoyed to see the loving, supportive family who surrounded her during this celebration. I feel so honored to have been a part of this little girl’s journey to her forever family.”
For more information on volunteering, donating, or sponsoring a wish list in the future, call the offices at 732-460-9100 or visit www.casaofmonmouth.org.