In this time of social distancing, we must all work to remain socially close to children. Child abuse and neglect is likely on the rise in the face of this pandemic, as families are put under more financial and emotional stress, but reporting may be down. Children are no longer in the public eye—they are not at schools or daycare, or in other locations where caring adults would be able to spot signs of abuse.
One group of people who speak up for children is CASA volunteers. They work with children in the child welfare system who have experienced abuse or neglect. They meet with children in person at least monthly, advocate for children’s best interests and provide information to judges that helps them make the most well-informed decisions for each child.
These in-person visits provide an opportunity for CASA volunteers to ensure the child is safe and well-cared for. But right now, meeting in person with the children they advocate for is not possible. This means it is harder for them to gauge what is going on in children’s lives, and their needs.
Staff and volunteers at Central Georgia CASA are finding creative ways to continue to meet with children. We have volunteers using video conferencing such as Facetime, Skype, etc. to be able to not only speak to the child but also see their faces to better be able to guage how they are doing. They are also using the mail to play games and send activities for the child.
This kind of creativity is what will make a real difference in children’s lives right now. It is the kind of creativity that people in all sectors of society are demonstrating.
If you are willing to get involved in a life-changing and sometimes life-saving cause—the safety, health and well-being of a child—join us in speaking up for a child at this time of community crisis. When the world re-opens, the need will be greater than ever.
- Those who want to change a child’s life as a CASA volunteer can use this time to learn more about the children we serve and to take advantage of attending virtual training beginning April 24.
- It’s up to all of us to make sure children are safe. Here are some resources to learn more or report suspected abuse or neglect:
- If you suspect a child is in immediate danger, contact the police or 9-1-1.
- To report suspected abuse or neglect, contact Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) by calling 1-855-422-4453 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline via text, phone or online chat, to report abuse or if you are afraid you might hurt someone – https://www.childhelp.org/childhelp-hotline/.
- For information on preventing abuse, visit the website of Child Abuse America at https://preventchildabuse.org/.
- For information on the CASA/GAL program and on the effects of child abuse or neglect, visit the National CASA/GAL Association for Children’s website at https://nationalcasagal.org/.
- If you are a parent or caregiver who needs support, contact the National Parent Hotline at 1 855 427 2736 or go to https://www.nationalparenthelpline.org/what-we-do