Passaic County CASA opened its doors for the organization’s first-ever School Supply Pop Up Shop on Tuesday, Aug. 20. The store, which was set up at the CASA Office in Wayne, gave children in foster care and foster parents the ability to “shop” for school supplies in a friendly, retail-like atmosphere. The shop was open for children who have been removed from home because of abuse or neglect, with the goal of making sure that all children living in foster care in Passaic County can start off the school year on the right foot. More than 400 children benefited from Passaic County CASA’s School Supply Drive and Pop Up Shop.
“A child in foster care is unable to focus on school or be excited about starting school like other youth may be because they often do not have the same level of support or preparation for the school year,” said Passaic County CASA Executive Director Erica Fischer-Kaslander. “By ensuring that they have proper supplies for their grade and class through our advocacy and supply collections, CASA is one step closer to ensuring a child has a chance at a successful, safe, and permanent childhood home.”
For the nearly 500 children in the Passaic County foster care system last year, the end of summer doesn’t mean back-to-school shopping with mom and dad; more often, it means the uncertainty of enrolling in a new school and having to make new friends. Passaic County CASA sought to make this transition a little easier by giving children in foster care a sense of control and independence. Every child who attended the Pop Up Shop was given the opportunity to choose their own backpacks, notebooks, pens, pencils, etc., all according to their personal taste and style.
During the Pop Up Shop, children of all ages, from those entering kindergarten to those starting college, browsed
racks of hundreds of backpacks, stacks of notebooks, and school supplies of all kinds. CASA volunteers guided the children throughout the store and helped make sure they checked off every item on their shopping list.
Year-round, Passaic County CASA focuses on advocating for the best interests of children in foster care. The organization recruits, trains, and supervises Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteers who act as the “eyes and ears” of the family court, and make recommendations about children’s needs.