This blog post is updated regularly to share how CASA of NH is adjusting our practices and protocols to prioritize safety while supporting our essential advocacy for children in need.
If you have a specific question that is not answered here, please use the “Ask a Question” form at the end of this page and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Aside from the skeleton crew that has been operating out of our Manchester office since March, staff members are allowed to work in their offices if they chose to do so. Some staff are working full time in the office, others are working full time at home, but the majority are doing a little of both. Visitors are very limited.
During this period of social distancing, we continue to work hard to fulfill our mission and are accessible by email. Contact a Staff Member
The fear and anxiety that many of us are feeling is likely to be magnified for the children and youth we serve who have also been affected by trauma. We continue to focus on keeping in touch with our kiddos to help them feel connected and secure. However, to ensure the safety of CASA volunteers, staff and the children we serve, connections have been taking place through video platforms, phone calls, and traditional mail. We have suspended all child and family visits.
• The New Hampshire Supreme Court has suspended all in-person proceedings in the Circuit, Superior and Supreme Courts. These orders were first issued on March 16, 2020 and have since been revised and re-issued 6 times as the State continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current orders became effective on July 27 and extend through August 17, 2020.
There are important exceptions to the suspension of in–person hearings. Please carefully check your hearing notices as the current Supreme Court orders encourage court proceedings by telephone, video or teleconferencing whenever possible to control the risk of in-person contact. The hearing notice will provide the instructions for what type of hearing will be conducted and how the CASA should attend the hearing.
The order authorizes that the following hearings WILL take place in person:
◦ DCYF requests for emergency hearings and hearings on such orders
◦ Adjudicatory Hearings if the children are in an out-of-home placement
◦ Requests for Protective Orders for juveniles
◦ The presiding trial judge may determine that the hearings on the exceptions listed above may be conducted telephonically or by video conferencing. If a hearing does go forward in-person, attendance will be limited to only the necessary parties which will be determined by the judge.
Please let your program manager know if you plan to attend an in-person hearing. If it is necessary for you to appear telephonically, please reach out immediately as some courts are requiring that we file a written request to appear telephonically.
• We ask CASA advocates to continue to draft all court reports for their scheduled hearings. Please continue to send draft reports to your Program Managers as usual (10 business days before the scheduled hearing).
• We are confident that most meetings with DCYF, including team meetings and other providers will happen by phone or ZOOM.
Info Sessions and Trainings
Unfortunately, the need for more CASA volunteer advocates does not go away because of a pandemic. In 2019, 187 children went without a CASA by their side. If anything, abuse and neglect cases may rise in New Hampshire this year. We need to be prepared.
We are continuing to recruit and train new CASA volunteers but are moving to a virtual format for now.
Information Sessions Click here to see the full schedule of virtual information sessions.
Applicant Interviews We need new volunteers now, more than ever. You can apply right online and we are currently conducting interviews virtually.
Trainings We have added virtual trainings for the rest of the year. Click here to see the full schedules.
Other Group Activities
Support groups for CASA volunteers will be on hiatus in April, but Program Managers will be checking in answer questions, provide support and catch up. Fundraising events and dinners that require in-person participation will be postponed until it is safe to congregate. We will keep you posted as we explore new ways to provide group interactions while practicing safe social distancing.
Have a question that was not answered here? Please use this form to send us your question and we will respond with an answer as quickly as possible! In the meantime, thank you for your continuing support and commitment.