CASA Program Reopening Resources
Thanks to several local CASA programs, we have compiled resources from the network that provide guidance on reopening your program’s office and returning to in-person visits. The resources are meant to help guide you in evaluating risks and making informed decisions, to keep your program safe and ensure that you’re ready to return to regular operations when the time comes. As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across Texas, we urge all CASA programs to consider carefully evaluating in-person meetings of any kind for staff, board members and volunteers, and only holding them in-person on an as-needed basis. We believe that the safety of the children and families you serve and your staff, board members and volunteers always comes first – and while these resources help mitigate risks, the safest option continues to be working from home and conducting virtual visits and meetings. Additional resources are also available in the National CASA/GAL program portal (member login required).
Reminder: Texas CASA established three statewide waivers in response to COVID-19 that state:
- Virtual visits may substitute for required face-to-face visits;
- Virtual training may substitute for required 10 hours of face-to-face training; and
- Name-based criminal history checks may substitute for Fingerprint Based Checks (FBCs) temporarily while IdentiGO centers are closed. FBCs will have to obtained once it is safe to do so.
These waivers will remain in place until at least September 2020, and will be reviewed by the Program Services & Standards Committee each quarter. The board stated that the waivers are necessary to provide each local CASA program the discretion to determine when they can safely resume activities, as many factors contribute to those decisions that are subject to each different community.
Resuming In-Person Visits
Face-to-Face Child Visit Temporary Protocol Flowchart
By CASA of Travis County
Best Practices Tip:
To keep all staff up to date and informed, CASA – Hope for Children is tracking COVID-19 cases within Optima files. The information comes directly from their area’s provider, OCOK, and is tracked so that everyone has the same current information.
Best Practices Tips:
CASA of Travis County set up a spreadsheet of the RTCs and group homes with children they serve to track whether they are allowing visits, if there have been positive cases there, etc.
Returning to the Office
COVID-19 & Deciding Who Works from Home
By the Society of Human Resource Management
Return to Work Procedures and Standards
By CASA of Galveston County
CDC Workplace Decision Tree
By the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
“While correctly using PPE can help prevent some exposures, it should not take the place of other prevention strategies. Examples of PPE include: gloves, goggles, face shields, face masks, and respiratory protection, when appropriate. The types of PPE required during a COVID-19 outbreak will be based on the risk of being infected with SARS-CoV-2 while working and job tasks that may lead to exposure.”
By OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
National CASA/GAL PPE Need Estimator
According to OSHA, employers are obligated to provide their workers with PPE needed to keep them safe while performing their jobs. This tool can be used to estimate the amount of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) your program may use.
By National CASA/GAL
Waivers & Forms
Volunteer Liability Release and Waiver
By CASA of West Texas
Volunteer Acknowledgment, Waiver & Release of Liability Form
By Dallas CASA
Reopening Considerations with an Equity Lens
Black and Latinx families are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system and are also seeing higher rates of COVID-19 infection and death, in Texas and nationally. These resources are intended to help programs bring a racial equity lens to their decisions and practices regarding COVID-19.
According to the CDC, “long-standing systemic health and social inequities have put some members of racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting COVID-19 or experiencing severe illness, regardless of age.
- Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native persons have a rate approximately 5 times that of non-Hispanic white persons,
- non-Hispanic black persons have a rate approximately 5 times that of non-Hispanic white persons,
- Hispanic or Latino persons have a rate approximately 4 times that of non-Hispanic white persons.
Health differences between racial and ethnic groups result from inequities in living, working, health, and social conditions that have persisted across generations. In public health emergencies, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, these conditions can also isolate people from the resources they need to prepare for and respond to outbreaks.”
Conversations with CASA – Tanya Rollins, CPS Disproportionality Manager
As I consider the ways that COVID-19 is affecting different communities, how can I bring a racial equity lens* to my advocacy?
*The concept of equity is synonymous with fairness and justice. Using your equity lens means paying special attention to race and ethnicity while examining the problem, looking for solutions and defining success.
Thank you to the local CASA programs who contributed documents and provided valuable insight.