Dear Friends of CASA,

Like many of you, we are paying close attention to the unprecedented and evolving COVID-19 situation locally and nationwide. The safety of our volunteers, staff, and the children and families we serve is of critical importance. We are following the precautions and procedures recommended by Henrico County, the Henrico County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, and the Department of Social Services. 

While we are all very concerned about this virus, we also need to be very concerned about the children in our community. Risk to our children for experiencing child abuse and neglect in times of extreme stress and uncertainty – like we are currently facing – is very high. School and workplace closings greatly increase stress, resulting from loss of income, unpaid leave, unexpected need for childcare, and food insecurity when school meal programs and other valuable community resources become unavailable. 

And while necessary to help slow the spread of this virus, an unintended consequence of social distancing is separation from important social supports. We know that social supports are important protective factors for families who experience mental health and substance abuse challenges, are in domestic violence relationships, or have a history of abuse or neglec t. For the children and youth we serve who have been affected by trauma, the conversations and media coverage on COVID-19 may be confusing and scary. This can trigger trauma-associated thoughts and behaviors from the child or create additional tension in the child’s home or placement. 

For 25 years, we have committed to ensuring the safety of the children in our community. This pandemic, this virus, cannot stop us from continuing our mission. In the coming weeks, we will be working closely with our staff and advocates to ensure regular contact with the children and their families safely and through alternative means — to keep everyone safe. This is vital to continue our essential advocacy for children’s best interest, and to support them in a time of uncertainty. 

Our kids need us now, more than ever. We need to know that the children we serve are safe, and their basic needs are met. This is our pledge to the County, the Court, the children we serve, and you — our faithful supporters — and must remain a priority. In the coming months, we anticipate a deep increase in needs as we work to recover as a community from the impact of COVID-19. We sincerely appreciate your ongoing support and belief in our mission, and helping CASA stay strong for our kids.

Please take good care of yourself and one another to the very best of your ability — so that we can all play our part and continue to serve the children who count on us.

Be well,

Jeannine Panzera,
J.D.Executive Director