April 29, 2020
Five ways CASA/GAL programs keep volunteers engaged during the pandemic
There are so many ways to keep volunteers energized and involved during normal times, but these current times are far from normal. Volunteers are the lifeblood of CASA and GAL programs. Together, those state and local programs serve 271,800 children each year. CASA/GAL programs are keeping volunteers engaged around the country during this pandemic-related isolation by:
- Encouraging volunteers to stay active with their program. CASA/GAL programs are encouraging volunteers to stay active with their program and the children they are assigned to by hosting virtual interviews and trainings to engage new volunteers, and working with judges who are getting creative about where they host swearing in ceremonies for advocates—such as outside or in the lobby of a closed building, with proper distancing between people. Some programs have identified volunteers with experience connecting virtually with children who are placed in another region or state and asking those volunteers to mentor others or to record a training. Volunteer supervisors in many places are meeting with volunteers virtually or by phone to stay updated on children’s well-being, and volunteers themselves are learning how to have effective visits with children by video. (For more on volunteers’ engagement with children, see our recent post.)
- Inspiring volunteers to learn more about child welfare efforts. Beyond keeping their websites and social media accounts updated with information and resources, some programs are sending articles or news about children in foster care out by email. Others are hosting discussions about relevant books or movies.
- Supporting volunteers who need assistance. Programs have also become a source of support for volunteers themselves, many of whom are now isolated and who may be in need of help. One program contacted volunteers to let them know that program staff are available to help volunteers who need someone to run an errand or provide other support. The program asked volunteers if they would like to do something for another advocate, as well. Other programs are calling volunteers more regularly to check in on them, or chatting with them online.
- Keeping volunteers engaged with each other. Volunteer supervisors are keeping volunteers engaged with each other, to help them maintain or develop connections with the volunteer community. Programs have increased the number of virtual meetings and phone calls they are having with volunteers. Some programs are even organizing virtual social events for volunteers, such as spirit week and virtual lunches or coffee chats.
- Showing appreciation to volunteers. Helping volunteers feel appreciated during hard times is important not only for their well-being, but for their sense of connection to our shared mission. CASA/GAL programs have been thanking volunteers in emails and hand-written cards or notes, and by calling them.
These are just five of the many strategies CASA/GAL program staff have come up with to keep their volunteers engaged and promote volunteers’ own welfare. For examples of what other organizations that are supporting volunteers are doing now, check out this list compiled by Energ!ze, an international firm specializing in volunteerism.
To become a CASA or GAL volunteer now, click here to find your local program.