Merry Christmas! The holidays should be a time to make happy memories with family, yet, they can be a challenging time of year for children of abuse or neglect, and with the onset of COVID-19, no one could have imagined the dramatic changes to which we would all have to adapt. Some might say this has been the most isolating time in our history.
Our program staff and volunteers have been able to pivot to serve children and families differently. They continue to recruit, provide online training, and hold socially distanced swearing-in ceremonies for new volunteers. Staff and volunteers are also providing advocacy— whether that is via Zoom, FaceTime, or phone call, as well as social distanced visiting. Being that caring, consistent adult, these volunteers have been the certainty in uncertain times for the children we serve. The determination of our volunteers has genuinely inspired me, and I hope it inspires you.
During the pandemic, families have been quarantined and separated from their loved ones to stay healthy. Imagine what it's been like for hundreds of children across the counties of Aurora, Brule, Buffalo, Charles Mix, Davison, Douglas, Hanson, Hutchinson, and McCook who have been removed from their homes and placed in foster care during this time. Picture 85 children across our service area relocating to a new home, new school—all while coping with the trauma of abuse or neglect.
So many things have changed. But one thing that hasn't changed is the difference that a CASA volunteer makes in a child's life. Our program and nearly 55 volunteers have seen first-hand the pandemic's impact on the 85 children and 48 families we helped this year. This includes the disruption of critically essential services like visitation with family, therapy, and special education services.
Next year holds the promise of endless possibilities for all of us. We are very hopeful for a brighter year and a return to a routine — one that includes being connected with our friends and loved ones again. Our volunteers are resilient, tenacious, and committed to supporting the children we serve. Regardless of what next year brings, we are equipped to handle it with your help.