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Beginning of school year often reveals child abuse, neglect

By Cynthia Van Brunt

The end of summer and the start of a new school year is an exciting time for most children.
But for some, the beginning of school could reveal a dark secret when signs of abuse and
neglect these children have suffered over the summer are noticed by teachers, staff and
other parents.

Because children are subject to less adult supervision over the summer, it is not
uncommon for reports of suspected abuse and neglect to spike at the start of the school
year.

Many of the children who are confirmed as victims are removed from their home and
placed into foster care – often far from their friends, families and schools.

CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers from CASA for Children of Monmouth County are specially screened and trained to speak up for abused and neglected children who, through no fault of their own, end up in the foster care system.

Being uprooted from their homes and families is scary for these children. We at CASA for
Children of Monmouth County want to make sure they do not get lost in the overburdened foster care system.

For that reason, we need more people in our community to speak up and make sure these children’s voices are heard. We want to help ensure their stay in foster care is as short as possible and that they are placed in safe, loving homes quickly so they can begin to heal.

There are 261 children who go through the child protection system each year from
Monmouth County.

Too many children are forced to go through the chaos of moving through the child
protection system feeling alone. CASA for Children of Monmouth County needs more volunteers to step up and be a voice for children who desperately need them.

To help these children, CASA is seeking adults, age 21 and older, to act as advocates for
children in foster care. A CASA volunteer is a trained citizen who is appointed by a judge to
represent the best interests of a child in court.

CASA volunteers work one on one with an abused or neglected child, advocating for his or
her best interests.

Essentially, CASA volunteers “speak up” for these children in the court and child welfare systems, making sure the children are safe and well cared for, are getting the services they need, and are placed in a permanent, safe, nurturing home as quickly as possible.

This school year, become a CASA volunteer and help children in need find safe, permanent
homes.

Anyone interested in volunteer opportunities should visit www.casaofmonmouth.org for upcoming information sessions and program details, or contact Monica Davidson at 732-460-9100.

Cynthia Van Brunt is the executive director of CASA for Children of Monmouth County.

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