Updated March 31, 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 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. The information below is current as of March 30, 2020.
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 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), but do not file reports with the Court if the hearing has been continued. Our Program Managers will either submit those or have the CASA submit the report to the Court once we get the go-ahead. If necessary, addendums will be made.
• 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 are continuing to recruit and train new CASA volunteers but are moving to a virtual format for now.
We will be offering two virtual information sessions about becoming a CASA volunteer advocate.
• Tuesday April 14th from 5:30 – 7 p.m.
• Wednesday April 15th from 5:30 – 7 p.m.
Please note that will be sending a recording of the info session to all registered participants, so please sign up even if you are not 100% positive that you can attend.
We need new volunteers now, more than ever. You can apply right online and we are currently conducting interviews virtually.
22 new volunteers just graduated from the Dover training! Thank you to our Dover graduating class for serving as our guinea pigs as we tested online capabilities for the last two sessions. We are finalizing plans for virtual trainings to continue as long as the COVID-19 crisis persists. Watch for details coming soon!
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.
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)