COVID-19 RESPONSE

Continuing to Advocate for Children

The CASA Program of Howard County remains steadfast in its overall mission to advocate for children. Given the current COVID-19 outbreak, we have responded with flexibility yet consistency regarding our policies and procedures. The utmost care and caution guide the necessary revisions in our operations as we keep the welfare of Howard County’s children in addition to our volunteers and employees our priorities.

We are staying abreast of city, state and federal guidelines to determine the necessary steps to safeguard everyone’s health. In that vein, the necessity to adhere to social distancing and protocols for quarantining informs our decision making as we continue to serve the best interests of Howard County’s children. Below are the specific policies and guidelines that concretely mirror our determination to maintain our services.

Visits With Children: In person visits have been suspended; however, visits are now being conducted using the technology that is both convenient and appropriate for the situation. Volunteers are contacting children using Google Duo, Zoom and Facetime. In addition the frequency of the visits have increased to provide an increased presence in the lives of the children during these particularly unusual circumstances. Volunteers are reaching out to their children every 7-10 days.

Contact With DCS: CASA volunteers always strive to maintain a good working relationship with the DCS employee assigned to their case. The current situation has necessitated a reliance on technology as volunteers are not presently attending CFTM’s in person. Again, Google Duo, Zoom, Facetime or other methods are being utilized to keep the lines of communication open among DCS, CASA and families.

Contact With Service Providers: Caring and advocating for children and their families certainly “takes a village” and this remains true regardless of the current health situation. In fact, CASA volunteers are currently required to main contact with all relevant service providers at least every two weeks, an increase from the former monthly expectation.

Staff Meetings and Workplaces: The CASA staff is working remotely as the CASA office is currently closed. Lines of communication between and among staff are being maintained, and weekly virtual meetings are being held to keep employees abreast of cases and pertinent information. Employees can be reached through howardcountyin.gov email accounts.

Hearings: For the obvious safety of those involved, most court hearings were suspended at the end of March. The most recent update is that CASA hearings will be held via Zoom with some exceptions, and to maintain the vital input of the CASA volunteer, it is expected that volunteers submit their required reports on time. As advocating in court is one of the key roles that CASA’s play, volunteers and staff will be in attendance whether in person or virtually. This guide informs volunteers about important considerations when attending hearings remotely:

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Recruitment of CASA Volunteers: CASA’s are needed now more than ever. We are still actively recruiting volunteers and are doing so in a variety of ways. Once the restrictions are lifted, we will resume our Coffee With CASA events; however, until then we will be holding virtual information sessions. These upcoming events will be advertised on Twitter @CASAkokomo, Facebook, and on this website. You may also contact our Building Capacity Coordinator for information about becoming a CASA volunteer at kristen.snoddy@howardcountyin.gov.

Resources

The non-profit Mental Health America promotes “the overall health of all Americans” and offers a multitude of resources including Self-Help Tools.

The site Be Well Indiana is an initiative of Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA).

The Indiana Youth Institute is a deep site with a wealth of information on the youth in Indiana. This site also provides several webinars including two in May focusing on 21st Century Scholar Enrollment and one on Vaping. Past webinars are archived if you miss one. See Upcoming Events and filter by the month.

The site All Children-All Families is a Human Rights Organization that promotes equality and inclusiveness for all while providing resources that focus on the LGBTQ youth and families.

Indiana Department of Child Services provides a toll free hotline (1-800-800-5556) to report suspected cases of child neglect or abuse. The site also provides useful COVID-19 resources.

Brighter Futures Indiana supports you in understanding your child’s learning. The site also provides a childcare finder. This site is made possible through The FSSA Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning and Early Learning Indiana.

Your local 2-1-1 is a service that can help you find resources for locating food, paying housing bills, or other essential services. The site supported by the United Way includes a COVID-19 screening tool and many other links.

This Indiana Government site includes a Food Assistance Availability Map. Once you enter your street address and zip code, food resources will be identified for you.

Keep Americans Connected is an initiative that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently announced to address the challenges many Americans are facing during the COVID-19 crisis — keeping their broadband or telephone connectivity open. The initiative asks providers and trade associations to take a pledge: to not terminate service due to inability to pay; to waive late fees; and provide hotspots.

This COVID-19 Screening Tool was developed in partnership between Apple and The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is not meant as an endorsement of any Apple products and Apple is not collecting participants’ answers.

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