April 28, 2020
Maintaining connections with children during the pandemic; Opportunity to share stories about CASA/GAL volunteers
We are continually impressed by the strength and ingenuity of staff and volunteers from CASA/GAL programs nationwide, and now is no exception. Social distancing as a result of COVID-19 has made flexibility more important than ever for volunteers and the children they serve. Children are isolated and their families’ health and well-being may be at additional risk.
Volunteers typically meet with their assigned children in person at least monthly and often more frequently. Through visits, volunteers provide emotional support and are able to learn more about what children are experiencing and need. These meetings are hard to sustain now.
But CASA/GAL program staff and volunteers are endlessly creative and are going to great lengths to find ways to stay connected with the children they serve. Programs have shared with us what they and their volunteers are doing to maintain contact with and provide support to children, always being done within the law and requirements for confidentiality and safety for children and youth. We share some examples here with you in hopes that they will provide inspiration for your own efforts:
- One volunteer took a video of herself reading a story and sent it to the children she serves so they can listen to her read whenever they want.
- Volunteers who work with teens are listening to music with them over Spotify, helping teens practice for virtual job interviews, and doing craft projects with them online.
- Volunteers are using this opportunity to strengthen connections by sharing more about their lives with children: one recently gave her assigned children a virtual tour of her farm.
- CASA/GAL volunteers are catching up with children on the phone or using video chat.
- Some volunteers are introducing children to the joys of receiving and sending snail mail, by mailing letters with a self-addressed stamped envelope so children can write back.
- Volunteers are dropping off care packages with food, puzzles, games and coloring pages. Some include a self-addressed stamped envelope so kids can share their finished artwork.
- Where allowed by the court, volunteers are helping youth communicate with their families of origin.
- Volunteers are meeting with children in person by going for walks while maintaining a safe distance, or by standing outside and talking with children who are on a porch or at the window.
- In some locations, restaurants have volunteered to supply children with meals through CASA/GAL volunteers.
If you have a story of how a CASA/GAL volunteer is making a difference for a child right now, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or share it with us on social media. It’s a great opportunity to thank CASA/GAL volunteers you know! Join us or support our work.