In the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, children and families are struggling to make it through each day, one day at a time. Many of our families, already engaged with the child welfare system prior to COVID-19, will have an even more difficult time than the average family.
Fortunately, CASA volunteers can still be strong supporters and advocates for the children they are appointed to and their families, while still observing social distancing and self-quarantining protocols. Included in this document is visitation information, resources, school district nutrition distribution, and phone/internet assistance. There is a lot of information in the following document that we hope will be helpful for you both as an advocate and in your own lives. Please take a moment to review and be sure to connect with your Advocate Supervisor or Peer Coordinator with any questions you may have or if you are seeking a specific resource we did not include. Remember we are still here to support you!
Mask-wearing and vaccination are the two most important tools Coloradans can use to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and bring us closer to ending the pandemic. Now that all Coloradans age 12 and older have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, masks are only required in certain places for people who are not fully vaccinated. However, fully vaccinated Coloradans may choose to protect themselves by wearing masks in public indoor places and this is encouraged when visiting children and youth in their homes.
CASA of Adams and Broomfield is committed to keeping its volunteer advocates and staff safe during the outbreak of COVID-19. Because of this we are implementing a gradual reintegration plan for our volunteers and staff. Volunteers have the complete autonomy to follow stricter guidelines as they see fit for their life circumstances.
Now that the “Stay at Home Order” is lifted from Tri- County Health, Broomfield County or the county authority for which the child resides, volunteers may begin seeing their child in person. If a volunteer chooses to begin seeing their child in person, the following guidelines must be adhered to:
Preparation of Visit:
- Advocates should contact all individuals who will be having in-person contact to ask the COVID19 screening questions (this should be done prior to every visit):
- Has any household/family member shown symptoms of a respiratory infection or been sick? Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, chills, loss of taste/smell, headache, and muscle pain.
- Has any individual in the home experienced a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher within the last 72 hours?
- Has any household/family member recently traveled to a high-risk area?
- Has any household/family member recently been exposed to someone with documented or suspected COVID-19 (Coronavirus)?
- If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the in-person visit should be rescheduled until the CDC guidance of isolation/quarantine is followed. Those guidelines can be found here. Virtual visitation should increase in frequency if in-person visitation is not possible.
- Consent must be given by family that is being visited. If they are not comfortable with in-person visits, please continue with virtual visits until they allow you to come to their home.
- Try to coordinate your visits to coincide with when the CW and GAL are visiting to limit potential exposure to the family.
- CASA requests advocates hold the visit in a space that is most conducive to maintaining the 6-foot distance. Consider open spaces, outdoor areas, and planned activities that can happen at a distance (such as kicking a ball)- A quick walk through of the home is allowed
- Ensure that only those who are essential to the visit attend and limit the number of participants in any visit
- Wipe everything down before and after use - consider wipes, paper towels, disinfectant spray available for the visit
- Remind visit participants to use tissues once if needed and then discard, cough into elbows (not hands), use hand sanitizer frequently (especially if physical contact does occur) or wear gloves, and do not touch faces (their own or each others)
- After a visit, request everyone cleans their hands and uses hand sanitizer prior to entering vehicles or entering home
- Ensure handwashing for at least 20 seconds when you return home.
Transportation of children/youth is approved on a case by case basis. Revised Transportation Waiver must be completed and approved by your CASA Supervisor.
The court has implemented strategies to hear current court cases. CASA will update advocates as any changes are released. While a hearing may not be held in person, advocates are still required to submit court reports.
CASA Volunteers can be a support to resource and biological parents during normal times, and this situation is no different. Volunteers are encouraged to check in with caretakers and children regularly as a form of support and to lend a listening ear. Parents may be struggling with distance learning schoolwork, children’s lack of traditional routine or lack of services that support our children (therapy, visitations, after school activities, etc). All of these things may cause trauma reactions for children that already have a history of trauma.
Caretakers and CASA’s should be aware of this and have behavioral management tools to support youth if needed. If a child experiences a true mental health crisis, please instruct the caretaker to call the Colorado Crisis Response at 844-493-8255 and /or have them reach out to their current provider.
To support a child and their family, when making weekly check in calls, inquire about items such as:
- 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? Could the CASA assist virtually?
- What is the family doing to keep busy daily?
- Is anyone in the household still working outside the home?
- Has the child/children 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 for healthcare workers/first responders, etc.)
- Are there upcoming non-urgent medical/dental appointments for the child/children, and if so, has the Division been consulted to determine whether these appointments can be postponed?
- Does the caretaker have supportive individuals they are relying on right now to share with and have social interactions with (if appropriate) to help with mental health?
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.
Some suggested common resources that are operating in a modified way to meets crucial needs in our community during the COVID-19 crisis are:
United Way 211 - https://www.211colorado.org/
2-1-1 is a confidential and multilingual service connecting people to vital resources across the state. No matter where you live in Colorado, you can find information about resources in your local community.
Adams County Human Services- http://www.adcogov.org/coronavirus-community-resources
Human Services will Continue to Provide Essential Services. While Adams County offices are closed the Human Services Department will continue to provide essential services to their residents. Adams County ask for your patience while we continue to process applications as quickly as possible. Adams county will have limited staff and do expect some delays. Interactive map of resources located HERE
Broomfield Human Services- https://www.broomfield.org/260/Health-and-Human-Services
Broomfield HHS is closed to in-person client visits. If you need to apply for or replace an EBT card to access Food Assistance benefits, please visit: https://www.broomfield.org/3008/SNAP-Food-Assistance