With the unpredictable COVID-19 pandemic increasing by the day, children and families are struggling. For our families involved in the child welfare system it can be even more difficult than the average family. Your role as a CASA volunteer is still important to the families you work with! CASA volunteers can be strong supports for children and families at this time while following the social distancing recommendations from the CDC and Wisconsin legislators. We have included a lot of information in this blog post that we hope will help you as an advocate, as well as in your personal life. As always, we are here to help you! Contact your supervisor/CASA staff by phone or email with any questions you may have.
Parents and children at this time may be struggling with all this change. With lack of their normal schedule, they may be missing out on work, school, counseling appointments, social supports, and even meals. All these things may cause trauma reactions for children/parents who already have a history of trauma. CASA volunteers should be checking in with their child/sibling groups caretakers regularly to be a support and listening ear.
Please consider asking these questions in your weekly phone/video calls with your families as you advocate remotely during this time.
Health of all household members — physical and mental
How are school/distance learning assignments being completed? What was sent by the district/teacher? Is the teacher available via email to help, if needed?
What is the family doing to keep busy daily?
Is anyone in the household still working outside the home?
Has the child(ren) had any issues behaviorally since being home?
If the child’s visitation has been suspended due to COVID-19, have they been able to stay in touch with their parent/sibling(s) by phone?
Is the household having any other challenges? (Financial, shortage of food, childcare, etc.)
Are there upcoming non-urgent medical/dental appointments for the child(ren), and if so, has the Department been consulted to determine whether these appointments can be postponed?
Does the caretaker have supportive individuals they are relying on right now to stay sane and healthy?
Advocates must remember that advocacy for a child is holistic and is always much wider than the child themselves. Please be sure to make phone contact with anyone else involved with the child’s case during this time to determine what their status is currently in relation to the child in question (if services are suspended, being offered remotely, etc.) This includes contact with biological parents, if the child is not currently in their custody. Be sure to make contact and help connect them with needed resources they may be seeking – the same as you would the child’s current caretaker.
Here are some suggested resources and links that might be important to families during this time.
Janeville School District: Beginning Thursday, March 19th Janesville Unified School District will be providing lunches from 11 am to 1 pm for students (per person under 19 present) at eight schools; Craig HS, Parker HS, Edison MS, Marshall MS, Madison Elementary, Wilson Elementary, Van Buren Elementary, and Jefferson Elementary. https://janesvillemealdelivery.weebly.com/school-lunch-delivery.html
Beloit School District: The School District of Beloit will provide a Grab and Go sack lunch and breakfast for all children ages one to 18, available Monday through Friday from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm at all elementary schools and Beloit Memorial High School through Friday, April 3. https://www.sdb.k12.wi.us/domain/115
Rock County Salvation Army https://centralusa.salvationarmy.org/rockcounty/cure-hunger-1/
Echo Janesville – food pantry http://echojanesville.org/
Rock County Department of Human Services: Their website lists updates they are making to comply with COVID-19 pandemic, and also lists multiple resourcecs for those in need. www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid–19/
Report child abuse: Be alert and keep an eye out for signs of abuse and neglect, even more than usual, because abuse and neglect have been shown to increase during times of crisis/natural disasters. Click this link to find the child abuse report line in your county. https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/reportabuse
Keep up with COVID-19 on the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fcases-in-us.html
Even though we are physically apart, virtual communities keep people connected and build relationships every day. If you need any virtual assistance from CASA staff, please feel free to ask! All our contact info can be found here: https://www.casarockcounty.org/contact
*questions/blog content adapted from CASA Passaic County