The COVID-19 pandemic has caused abrupt changes in the lives of most everyone. The inability to see our friends and family, a strong desire to return to what we knew as normality, and an unease with the unknown have been common feelings throughout our community.
Though sudden and unnerving, many of us have a support system in place to help us through, like our families and virtual events and meetings. However, these feelings are all too common for children who enter foster care. Long before we knew about the Coronavirus, abused and neglected children were encountering these feelings and disruptions with few tools to help them get through.
CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) has been working in our region, since 2005, to provide consistency for children in foster care. The organization has worked to make sure that children who have had their lives disrupted, at no fault of their own, have a voice speaking on their behalf, in the courts, who is also their friend and constant during a time when the unknown is their new normal.
Since the pandemic began, CASA of South Central Missouri has been working to ensure each volunteer can continue to have a connection their child, even without being able to communicate in person. Each volunteer is required to visit their child at least once a month to check-in, touch base with their foster home, and visit with those in the child’s life to ensure their needs are being met. With the inability to have in-person contact, CASA worked on a plan to facilitate this needed communication, given the constraints necessitated by the pandemic.
Enter the TKD Foundation. The Foundation, created by Ted and Kim Day, has worked with CASA, along with other organizations in our area to ensure that needs of our community are being met. They heard of CASA’s desire to facilitate communication through the use of a Google Voice texting platform. This would allow volunteers to make contact via text, many youth’s desired method of communication, safely and securely. Immediately the TKD Foundation offered to help through a grant which allowed 40 CASA’s the technology they needed to make effective communication possible. Within a week, all the CASA volunteers in immediate need had access and began to engage with their children.
We now find ourselves, as a community, beginning to find our footing with a gradual return to a new normal. Yet, many children may have many more months until they can find a safe and permanent home. CASA is working with over half of the children currently in care (350 in 2019) but still needs help to give a voice to those who remain without an advocate.
Consider becoming a CASA today. With more than 250 children in our community in foster care without a CASA, the need could not be greater. Help them discover a new sense of normal, just as we are all looking to find. In times like these we remember how important it is to have our community to surround ourselves with and times like these compel us to work together for those in greatest need: Our children.
Visit www.casascmo.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 573-426-5437 to get more information, become a monthly donor, or to make a positive impact as a volunteer.