Updated March 19, 2020
A MESSAGE FROM MARTY SINK, CASA-NH PRESIDENT AND CEO
As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves in New Hampshire, we are all changing the way we live our lives and run our organizations. This is the first of regular updates we will be sharing about how CASA of NH is adjusting our practices and protocols to prioritize safety while supporting our essential advocacy for children in need. This page will be updated regularly to reflect the most recent information for our community.
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.
A skeleton crew is operating out of our Manchester office. Staff at all other offices is working remotely. During this period of social distancing, we continue to work hard to fulfill our mission and are accessible by email.
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. Over the next weeks (and possibly months), we will be focused 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 will now take place through video platforms, phone calls and traditional mail. We have suspended all child and family visits.
Marty Sink, CASA of NH President and CEO, has sent detailed updates and recommendations to all current volunteers. As a quick recap:
• The New Hampshire Supreme Court has suspended all in-person proceedings in the Circuit, Superior and Supreme Courts from: Monday, March 16- April 6, 2020. However, there are important exceptions. These hearings WILL take place:
◦ 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. If a hearing does go forward, attendance will be limited to only the necessary parties which will be determined by the judge.
• We ask CASA advocates to continue to draft and file all court reports for their scheduled hearings. Please continue to send draft reports to your Program Managers as usual and file your reports with the Court.
• We are confident that most meetings with DCYF or others will happen by phone.
Current advocates should refer to the email from Marty for more information and/or contact your Program Manager.
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 will continue recruiting new CASA volunteers but you’ll see some changes. Our in-person information sessions will likely be replaced by webinars, videoconferences and Facebook Live sessions. Pre-training interviews may be conducted virtually, and the training sessions that are currently underway will wrap up using online sessions as well. We feel that face-to-face interactions remain important in training, so please bear with us as we figure out the best path forward for the planned spring training sessions. We will post details as they become available.
Other Group Activities
All support groups for CASA volunteers will be moving to an online format. 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.
Resources and Tips for Advocates and Families
• Tips for Video Chatting with Young Children (National Association for the Education of Young Children)
• Book and Video Recommendations (National CASA/GAL Association)
• Free Online Classes (Child Welfare Education Partnership at Granite State College)
• Coronavirus Resources & Tips (Prevent Child Abuse America)
• Coronovirus FAQs for Parents (Parenting NH)
• COVID-19 Factsheet for Grandfamilies & Multigenerational Families (Generations United)
• Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with COVID-19 (National Child Traumatic Stress Network)
• Talking About Diseases in the News (Bradley Hospital)
• Mental Health & Coping During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Zero to Thrive)
• Supporting Kids During the Coronavirus Crisis (Child Mind Institute)
• Virtual Field Trips (Weareteachers.org)
• Online Education Program for Kids (Brainpop)
• Working and Learning from Home During the COVID-19 Outbreak (Healthychildren.org)
National Child Abuse Prevention Month:
(All resources are from the Child Welfare Information Gateway presented by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
• Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)