NEW BRUNSWICK – About 200 community members, local and state leaders and child advocates helped raise funds to help Middlesex County foster children.
Held at Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick on May 7, Toast 2017 raised much-needed funds to recruit, train and support more Court Appointed Special Volunteers (CASA), who look out for the best interests of foster children, according to Stephanie Brown, director of CASA of Middlesex County, which hosted the event.
Only about one-quarter of Middlesex County children in foster care have someone solely dedicated to looking out for their best interests, Brown said in a prepared statement.
Research shows that children without a CASA are likely to spend more time in foster care, struggle at school and return to foster care because of repeat abuse, she said.
“Children living in foster care have suffered trauma, abuse and neglect,” Brown said. “They are often confused and fearful of their uncertain future. The well-intentioned systems designed to serve these vulnerable kids can overlook the needs of an individual child.’’
That’s where CASA comes in.
“Our trained, dedicated volunteers work on the front lines with the courts, the schools, healthcare providers and social and protective services to make sure each child gets the needed help while in foster care and finds a safe, permanent home as soon as possible,” Brown said in the statement, thanking all who came out to support the organization and the children it serves.
Amy Mansue, president of the southern region for RWJBarnabas Health, was honored at the event.
“She’s had a distinguished career in healthcare and public policy,’’ said CASA board member William Hamilton, who presented the award to Mansue. “She had made many, many contributions to the well-being of children across New Jersey.’’
As the former president and chief executive officer of Children’s Specialized Hospital, which treats children facing special health challenges, Mansue often met children who had been abused or neglected and were in the state’s foster care system.
“I saw up close the health issues that can arise when children suffer the trauma of abuse or are born with disabilities due to parental substance abuse,” Mansue said in the statement. “They need the caring, watchful eye of an adult who has only their best interests at heart.
“CASA never loses sight of the kids,” Mansue added when accepting the award. “Their sole focus is the protection and well-being of these children. It cannot be overstated how important that is. Every other entity in the child protection system has other interests.”
For more information, visit casaofmiddlesexcounty.org.