In the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis, we're altering some of our practices while remaining laser-focused on the well-being of the children we serve. 

To that end, we provide this guidance to our CASA volunteers:
  • In-person Visits: Halt all in-person visits until further notice. We want everyone to stay well.
  • Virtual Visits: Keep in close contact with the children you serve using technology. Specifically:
    • Use FaceTime, Skype or other means of seeing the children while you talk. Laying eyes on them will help you assess how they are; it may also promote a sense of calm and connection in these unsettling times.
    • In lieu of monthly in-person visits, communicate multiple times each month in a variety of ways -- FaceTime, phone, text, etc.
  • Children's Caregivers: Reach out to the children's caregivers and parents and offer a listening ear. Create the opportunity to hear about and help solve challenges. Families will be under increased stress while children are home from school. Traumatized kids may be especially unsettled by the disruption to their routines. Talking can help ease stress.
  • Case Workers: Contact your CASA children's social worker, Guardian ad litem and other case professionals. Be sure they know you aren't visiting children in-person but will visit virtually. Ask about their visiting plans. Share your concerns and ideas.
    • Note: Social workers in at least some local jurisdictions are ceasing in-person visits with children and also stopping in-person visits between foster children and their biological families. Most if not all facilities that hold children are also banning visitors for now.
  • New Cases: Courts will keep holding Emergency Removal Order and Preliminary Child Protective Order hearings. This means CASA can get new appointment orders. Volunteers, if we need you to serve a newly-appointed child, we'll be in touch.
  • Court Hearings: Some upcoming hearings may be postponed to honor social distancing guidelines. CASA staff are communicating with court clerks, and your Case Manager will let you know whether your hearing has been rescheduled. 
  • Court Reports: CASA is continuing to submit reports for all upcoming hearings. Report due dates may be pushed back if hearings are postponed; your Case Manager will keep you posted. Please plan to submit your report two weeks before the original hearing date because many hearings are being held as planned.
  • Checking In: Volunteers, please stay in touch with your Case Manager. Email updates about how your CASA children are doing. Call when you need to talk. The children's in-home counselors may no longer be visiting; their routines will be disrupted; their foster parents/parents will be under stress. We want to help you be helpful.
Also important to know:
  • Office Closure: The CASA office is closed to visitors until further notice. Staff are working almost exclusively from home. We'll respond as quickly as possible to messages. Email is the best way to reach us, but volunteers, don't hesitate to call staff's cell phones.
  • Patience, Tolerance and Reassurance: The National Child Traumatic Stress Network recommends these three approaches to navigating children's fears and possibly heightened behavioral responses during the outbreak. See the link in the section below for more advice.
  • Stay Safe: Keep your distance from others, wash your hands and keep following guidance from the CDC and other reputable health experts. Social distancing is critical to stopping the spread of the virus. We want everyone -- volunteers, kids, etc. -- to be healthy!
Helpful resources for CASAs and families:
 
  • The Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope With The Coronavirus Disease 2019, from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.  Click here
  • CDC Coronavirus site. Click here.
  • Kids Health: How to Talk to Your Child about Coronavirus. Click here.
  • Khan Academy: Free online educational resources and daily schedules. Click here.  
  • School lunch programs:
    • Fredericksburg Public Schools Mobile Feeding Program. Click here
    • Spotsylvania County Public Schools food distribution plan. Click here
    • King George County Public Schools "grab and go" meals info. Click here
  • Local Departments of Social Services:
    • Fredericksburg: 540-372-1032
    • King George: 540-775-3544
    • Spotsylvania: 540-507-7898
    • Stafford: 540-658-8720
  • Virginia Child Protective Services hotline: 800-552-7096