During Pandemic, Local Volunteers Work to Ensure At-Risk Children are Safe: CASA Volunteers Needed Now More than Ever

| April 13, 2020

FLAGSTAFF — 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. Children are no longer in the public eye—they are not at schools or daycare, or in other locations where caring individuals would be able to spot signs of abuse. One group of volunteers in Coconino County is working hard to ensure that abuse and neglect do not go unnoticed.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are community members who volunteer with CASA of Coconino County. They work with children in the child welfare system who have already experienced abuse or neglect. They meet with children in person at least monthly and provide information to judges that helps them make the most well-informed decisions about each child.

These visits provide an opportunity for CASA volunteers to check in on children’s safety and well-being. But right now, meeting in person with the children they advocate for is difficult or impossible. This means it is harder for them to gauge what is going on in children’s lives, and their needs.

The CASA Volunteers are working with program staff to find creative ways to continue to meet with children.  Currently they are doing telephone calls, video conferencing, and text messaging.

“It is this kind of creativity that will make a real difference in the child’s life,” said Nicole Snow, Program Coordinator. “We need volunteers now more than ever.  We are encouraging all community members to join with us by volunteering and by helping us ensure children are safe during this time of national crisis.”

If a reader suspects a child is in immediate danger, they should call 9-1-1. They can also contact the Arizona Child Abuse Hotline at (888) SOS-CHILD, which is 888-767-2445, to report abuse.

CASA of Coconino County always hopes for the day when CASA Volunteers are no longer needed because all children are growing up safe, secure and supported with their families. Until then, we will continue to seek more members of the community to help grow our movement so that we can provide a CASA volunteer for every child who needs one.

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes. No specific background or training is needed to become a CASA volunteer. Anyone 21 years of age or older, who can pass a thorough background check and complete 30 hours of free training, is encouraged to apply.

To learn more about becoming a CASA Volunteer, call us at 928-226-5420, email Jill Schuldt at jschuldt@courts.az.gov or visit our website at www.CASAofCoconinoCounty.org

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Category: Advocacy, Child Welfare

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