CASA volunteers get creative during the Coronavirus
May 11, 2020
By Jenny Bender, executive director, Colorado CASA
More than 120 volunteer court appointed special advocates (CASA) arrived at a virtual town hall earlier this month to hear from seasoned volunteers ready to field questions and share tips, resources and stories to help each other support Colorado children in foster care today. The conversation flipped back and forth between advice on navigating the educational, judicial and child welfare systems and creative ways to connect with kids via video chat or telephone calls. As stories were shared it became clear that the role of a CASA is evolving right before our eyes. A fact that documented in the Associated Press article Volunteers Use Internet to Check Foster Kids During Pandemic. CASA volunteers are not only checking in with youth via video, but they are also helping strengthen families by setting up food delivery and helping essential workers find child care.
In this unprecedented and ever-changing time, one thing is certain to ensure that Colorado children, families and communities thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic and recover from the economic impact as quickly as possible, we need to pull together, share what is working and get advice from one another, to support kids in every household and community right now.
I am so thankful to the small army of volunteers, as they were referred to in the original Colorado Sun article, for continuing to dutifully serve the children of Colorado. That is why Colorado CASA and local CASA programs throughout Colorado put together the town hall for volunteers to share what was working and how to navigate this new world of staying at home, virtual court hearings, video visits and so much more. This is a world that many volunteers likely didn’t envision when they signed up to change a child’s story by becoming a CASA, but they are learning to figure it out alongside countless caseworkers, GALs and foster parents on the frontlines supporting children in the child welfare system today.
Colorado CASA launched a campaign - Change a Child’s Story - to add 2,000 more volunteers by the end of 2020 to match the demands of Colorado’s foster care system and we aren’t ready to back down from that goal just yet. We certainly can’t wait for things to return to “normal” to train and support our new and seasoned volunteers. This very well may be the new “normal” and, unfortunately, we need to let everyone know we are still OPEN for business and need your help. If you would like to get involved to Change a Child’s Story, visit www.coloradocasa.org.