On Wednesday afternoon seven volunteers were sworn in as court appointed advocates for Macon County CASA.
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There's more than 190 CASA advocates serving more than 580 children in Macon County. Due to COVID-19, five of those advocates were sworn in, in a much different way then usual.
The number of hotline calls for child abuse and neglect is down nearly 45 percent in the state of Illinois, according to Macon County CASA.
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Keeping Eyes on the Children
Although we are in a time of social distancing, we must all work harder and more intentionally to remain socially close to children. Child abuse and neglect has been on the rise during this pandemic as families are enduring more financial and emotional stress, but reporting has been down. CASA remains focused, especially during this time, on keeping kids safe during this difficult, unprecedented season of isolation.
Using Digital Tools to Stay Connected
During the pandemic, CASA advocates have been restricted from entering the homes (foster homes or biological homes) or assigned children to ensure everyone’s safety and well-being. CASA Advocate Supervisors and CASA volunteer advocates have been working from home—making phone calls, participating in video chats and virtual meetings, and doing everything in their power to keep in communication with all parties involved in the lives of the children.
Need for CASA Advocates Greater Than Ever.
All Virtual Trainings Now Available.
Macon County CASA’s small staff (less than 10 people) is currently serving just over 300 children which represent only half of the total children in Macon County’s court’s care. CASA has made volunteer training more accessible than ever with classes completely virtual. For more information about becoming a CASA volunteer advocate, click here (link to Volunteer) or email email@example.com.
Volunteers Finding Ways to Stay in Touch with Assigned Children
CASA is busy advocating for kids during the COVID-19 pandemic in new and creative ways. CASA volunteer Sandy read weekly books with her 4 and 1 year old CASA kiddos. She left a copy on the kiddos’ porch and from her own home, Sandy read her copy of the story via Zoom. Both CASA volunteer and kiddos read within blanket forts each made in their respective living rooms.
CASA volunteer Jodi never forgot a holiday, creating a private Easter egg hunt for 7, 9, and 12 year old CASA kiddos to wake up to in their own yard! Volunteer and children check in on the phone to discuss the excitement of the surprise.
Macon County CASA's biggest fundraiser is underway. Watch at WANDTV.com.
“When you are not experienced in the child welfare system, you just don’t know,” said Julia Livingston, executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA. “People are surprised to hear that number; 587 kids are in foster care in Macon County.”
CASA in Central Illinois has more children than volunteers. Julia Livingston with Macon County CASA sees first hand how being involved in a child's life can positively impact their lives.
"Remy The Dog Sworn In As CASA Advocate" video from WAND.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and other child advocates on Wednesday called for more resources to bolster the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services’ efforts to prevent tragedies such as the death of Ta’Naja Barnes, a Decatur 2-year-old who had been in foster care months before she died.
The Macon County CASA is looking for people to volunteer their time and become a court advocates.