CASA work still strong during pandemic
COVID-19 is creating an evolving situation with varied impacts across the board, including non profit organizations. The Seventh Circuit 'Court Appointed Special Advocate’ Program or CASA is doing their best job in the middle of constant change.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — The pandemic has impacted every aspect of the CASA program, from court room hearings to limitations on volunteer and child direct visitations. But it is not stopping any advocacy from being done.
Kehala Two Bulls, the Executive Director of the 7th circuit CASA program, says, “Our CASAs have done an amazing job still connecting with children, even taken on lots of new cases during this pandemic time, from a distance they have created great connections.”
They’ve had to get creative building those relationships.
Two Bulls says, “For example, we has one advocate who bought a journal, and she would write a couple passages or notes and drop it in the mailbox at the placement where the child was and then the child would write notes back and it was more intimate. It was more genuine and it really helped build their connection.”
CASA believes that every child deserves a safe, permanent, nurturing home. They are able to focus on the needs and rights of that child, speaking in their best interest and letting the judge know the challenges, especially during this trying time.
“Children in foster care experience prolonged uncertainty and it affects every aspect of their development and their interaction with the world and I think that we are all feeling discomfort but trying to build empathy and understanding of why our program is so important- forever,” says Two Bulls.
The need for advocates remains and is possible more so than ever thanks to volunteer, virtual trainings. 320 children are waiting for an advocate.
Two Bulls says, “I really believe that everyone out there either could be an amazing CASA or know someone close to them who could be an amazing CASA, and we just need to draw those resources out of the community and support children. They deserve support and they deserve a voice.”
Fundraising is also a challenge at a distance. The non-profit has had to restructure the fundraising strategies. Support from the community will always be needed and appreciated to continue and expand the work.
“We are just trying to focus on what we have power over and that is to prepare our agency to advocate for children, increase our capacity to advocate for children and do the best job possible supporting our advocates who are already speaking for the best interest of children in our community,” says Two Bulls, going on to say, “Child welfare is always really difficult, really complicated area to work in and I think we already had this mentality that no matter the challenge – we are going to be there for children.”
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