March 26, 2021
State and local CASA programs coordinate with health departments to help CASA volunteers receive vaccinations
During the COVID-19 pandemic, CASA and GAL volunteers remained committed to advocating for children who have experienced abuse or neglect, while adhering to CDC social distancing guidelines. As states began their rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations earlier this year, CASA and GAL programs coordinated with their health departments to ensure that their active volunteers would be eligible to receive them.
When the Kentucky Department for Public Health issued a memo designating behavioral health providers eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, this allowed foster care agencies and frontline social workers to be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Local CASA programs in Kentucky coordinated with their community health departments to arrange for active CASA volunteers to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations.
This presented an opportunity for CASA volunteers to resume in-person visits more quickly, safely attend emergency court hearings held in person, resume visits to children in residential care and visit children they serve in their in-person school environment. Numerous CASA volunteers have sent emails of gratitude for the opportunity to receive the vaccination.
Six Kentucky CASA programs (CASA of the River Region, CASA of the Bluegrass, CASA of Lexington, CASA of Madison and Clark Counties, CASA of the Heartland and CASA for Kids of Kenton, Campbell and Pendleton Counties) were the first in the state to coordinate with their local health departments to schedule vaccinations for over 150 volunteers in 10 counties.
In California, CASA of Santa Barbara County worked with their county’s health department to register CASA volunteers and staff who were eligible and regularly seeing children/families in their homes or community. CASA of Santa Barbara County was able to get them included during the COVID-19 vaccine distribution with other frontline and first responders.
CASA of Santa Barbara Executive Director Kim Colby Davis shared that it felt good to advocate on behalf of the work their volunteers provide and for them to gain the recognition they so deserve. “The response from volunteers has been like nothing I have ever seen,” said Davis. “They were so grateful to be recognized at this early stage in vaccine distribution, and we know that the end result is that our volunteers are safer, have less anxiety and are more likely to spend more time with the children they are assigned to.” Overall, CASA/GAL programs continue to pursue ways for their volunteers to reengage in person with the children and families they serve.