An important note from CASA of Santa Barbara County and National CASA
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we have created a set of guidelines for CASA volunteers to remain in contact with the children they serve through “Virtual Visits“. During this challenging time, advocacy is more important than ever, and we also want our volunteers to be safe and healthy. While the standard best practice is that a CASA volunteer sees the child weekly, the current situation makes that practice unlikely or impossible. Advocacy can continue with a phone call, text, email with the child and/or caregivers.
National CASA has published these guidelines:
ALTERNATIVES TO FACE-TO-FACE MEETINGS
- Texting: If texting with a child, no confidential information that would disclose specifics about a child’s identity or the case should be discussed.
- Texting should be limited and during reasonable hours.
- Text conversations should not be deleted until after the case is closed.
- CASA/GAL volunteers should be aware that any messaging, texting, emailing may be discoverable by the court. Please be sure to review state laws and court rules to determine if text messaging is discoverable in court.
- Video Conferencing: Skype, FaceTime or other online video chat applications between CASA/GAL volunteers and children may be utilized for volunteer meetings with children. No confidential information that would disclose specifics about a child’s identity or the case should be discussed.
- If online video chat applications are utilized, these additional parameters should be followed:
- Ensure you are in a private location with no other people around.
- No recording may take place (audio or visual) by either party on the call.
- Online video chats should not be conducted with children under the age of 13.
More Guidance for Volunteers: Ways to Safely Stay In Touch With Children
- All calls should be prefaced with a verbal disclosure agreement to verify the above parameters are met and agreed upon at the beginning of each call.
- Remember that confidentiality cannot be guaranteed when using video chat technology.
- Phone Calls: When talking to a child on the phone, the CASA/GAL volunteer must follow many of the same recommendations as with video chat technology including ensuring you are in a private location with no other people around, that there is no recording taking place, and that no confidential information that would disclose the specifics about a child’s identity or the case should be discussed