Dear CASA friends and colleagues,
Every day, we learn more about the international COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and the profound implications it is having – and will have – on our day-to-day lives here in Colorado. For those of us working on behalf of Colorado’s families in child welfare, we face a mounting challenge to ensure that we are doing all we can for our staff members, for our CASA volunteers, and especially for the children who depend on our CASA volunteers. CASA is fully operational and remotely open for business in all 18 program locations throughout Colorado, delivering vital services to thousands of CASA children and youth in our state.
CASA programs in Colorado serve children who have open abuse or neglect cases (D&N) in all placement types. Over half of children we serve are living at home with their parents or with a relative, while another third are in foster care, the remaining live in group homes, independent living, inpatient facilities or juvenile detention centers. The current economic uncertainty, lack of childcare, school closings and social isolation are adding stress for all families, and especially those served by CASA.
We can work together to strengthen families and reduce the risk that children re-experience abuse and neglect during this stressful time by ensuring children and families have the resources and support they need. CASA is this solution, providing a unique service in this time of crisis. While CASA volunteers will refrain from in-person visits with children, they will play an increasingly vital role by virtually checking-in with families and helping to problem solve around needs and resources, and continue to support children using the technology we have available. CASA volunteers are quickly learning their virtual visits with children present an opportunity for more frequent contact. One volunteer in Boulder County is now using FaceTime to talk to her CASA youth living in a residential treatment facility. Instead of two visits in-person a month, they are talking over video almost nightly. We are certain we will continue to hear stories of opportunity and hope, come from swift programming changes and adjustments.
CASA programs have already been busy providing volunteers with policies and procedures for working with children and families during the COVID-19 outbreak, creative ideas on spending time with children virtually, and information about resources in their communities to support families. Supports during times of needs and caring adults are proven risk factors that buffer against adverse childhood experiences.
We are looking for positive stories from our incredible CASA volunteers during this trying time. Please share those with ColoradoCASA@ColoradoCASA.org and let me know if you are comfortable with us sharing these stories of hope and resilience via social media (names will be withheld).
Thus, now more than ever, we are prioritizing our CASA work. We will continue to keep you updated in the days and weeks ahead.