Christie cut threatens resources to protect 650 N.J. kids in foster care

The executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Jersey says the $850

The executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Jersey says the $850

An organization that helps ensure the safety of abused and neglected kids in foster care is urging New Jersey lawmakers to restore funding that Gov. Chris Christie cut from his proposed budget.

Liza Kirschenbaum, the executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Jersey, said the $850,000 funding reduction would hurt the organization’s ability to provide volunteers to help those kids cope.

“Many, if not most, of the 650 additional children that we’re serving will need to be dropped from the program, losing their CASA volunteer, and this would be yet another terrible trauma for them,” she told lawmakers Thursday.

Gerry Magrini testified about the important work that he and other volunteers do, saying he was able to help an 11-year-old girl who was removed by social services from a motel where gang violence and drug use were common.

“She was abandoned for days and eating dog food. Her mother had threatened to kill her. So, not surprisingly, she had some serious behavioral issues,” Magrini said. “I did what needed to be done. I gave her a sense of comfort, consistency, and calm that she’d been lacking. I helped her cope with her feeling and control her behaviors.”

That girl was adopted by her grandmother.

Assembly Budget Committee chairman Gary Schaer, who said lawmakers restored a similar cut in the organization’s funding last year, said he believes that will happen again.

“The governor can red-line it out, but it does have bipartisan support,” said Schaer, D-Passaic.

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