Issued March 13, 2020 (updated 3/1/22):
NOTE: If you have any questions or concerns about potential Coronavirus symptoms, please call the Prince George’s County Health Department Coronavirus hotline at (301)883-6627 during 8:00am – 8:00pm to receive updated information about the coronavirus disease. *Please contact 911 for medial emergencies only. Do not contact 911 for Coronavirus related issues.
To find your nearest COVID vaccine, go to the Prince George’s County COVID Vaccine site.
CASA’s offices are open for staff but remain closed to visitors. The safety of the children we serve, our volunteers and our staff is of paramount importance. While we are starting to resume some in-person activities, we continue to follow adjusted practices and protocols to prioritize safety while still supporting our essential advocacy for children in need. This page will continue to be updated to reflect the most recent information for our community.
As of February 28th, Prince George’s County has lifted its indoor mask mandate.
As of February 28th, 2022 CASA moved into Phase 3 visits which allow for in-person visits for vaccinated volunteers.
As Prince George’s County continues to recover from the Omicron variant and increase its vaccination rate, we have shifted our COVID protocol to Level 3. This means that vaccinated CASA volunteers are now able to visit their youth indoors, face-to-face. Vaccinated volunteers may also participate in community outings with their youth and provide transportation within their role as a CASA volunteer. Unvaccinated volunteers must continue at Level 2 and conduct all visits outdoors, socially distanced and masked. Transportation is not permitted for unvaccinated volunteers.
While visits are allowed, they are not mandatory, and in-home visits will continue to be at the discretion of the individuals with whom the youth lives and spends significant time. In all cases, prior to scheduling any visits CASA/Prince George’s County expects that volunteers will coordinate with placements and their involved family members to ensure their comfort level with in-person visits. It is expected that volunteers will accommodate the requests of the placement and the guidelines set by the county or the establishment and wear masks when required. The volunteer may also take into consideration their own circumstances and choose to continue visiting outdoors and masked.
CASA/Prince George’s County continues to monitor the information provided by the CDC and uses the COVID-19 community levels found in the COVID tracker for decision making. Currently Prince George’s County’s community level is low. At this level, the CDC recommends vaccines, ventilation of indoor spaces, and access to testing when ill. Immunocompromised individuals should consult their healthcare provider when making decisions about in-person visits. CASA/Prince George’s County will continue to monitor the CDC’s guidelines and make adjustments as necessary.
Level 4 would be a full return to normal operations and would allow unvaccinated volunteers to visit indoors and in-person after consultation with placements and active family. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and the children we serve and we highly recommend that all volunteers become vaccinated.
For volunteers who prefer to continue with remote visitation, please see here for tips from our colleagues on how to set up video chats. Additional contact can be made by text, email or phone. Each youth is unique and your communication should be tailored to their age and willingness to “chat.” Some volunteers should be checking in with caregivers, rather than children based on age or developmental level. Consult with your Case Supervisor to determine the level of communication that is right for you.
If a youth or family member is experiencing a true mental health crisis, the following resources are available-
Call the Crisis Hotline 301-429-2185 for a mental health crisis or suicide prevention, mobile response
Call 211 for County hotline services including mental health crisis or suicide prevention (no mobile response).
Tips for volunteers-To support a child and their family, inquire about items such as:
- Health of all household members — physical and mental
- Is anyone in the household working outside the home?
- Has the child/children had any issues behaviorally?
- If the child’s visitation has been suspended due to COVID-19, have they been able to stay in touch with their parent/sibling(s) by phone?
- Is the household having any other challenges? (Financial, shortage of food, childcare for healthcare workers/first responders, etc.)
- Are there any medical/dental appointments for the child/children that were cancelled but could not be rescheduled? Has DSS been consulted to determine whether these appointments have been rescheduled?
- Does the caretaker have supportive individuals they are relying on right now to stay calm and healthy?
- For more information, please see the National CASA GAL Association’s guidelines on safely staying in contact with children during this time.
Here are some great tips and tools from our colleagues at CASA Wisconsin for setting up video calling, ideas for activities you can do virtually and guidance on advocacy at a distance.
Resources for Kids and Families
Here are some resources you can share with kids and parents/foster parents:
Access to free meals:
- List of meal sites in Prince George’s County, searchable by zip code.
- Capital Area Food Bank Meals for children and families.
- Free meal sites for kids throughout Maryland and Virginia.
- Prince George’s County Food Equity Council’s list of food assistance resources in the County.
Education and Technology:
Here are some resources that are available
- Prince George’s County Distance Learning Guide
- Free internet access for low income customers.
- Prince George’s County Memorial Library System is offering drive-up wi-fi hotspots.
- Scholastic Learn from Home site.
- Prince George’s County Memorial Library branches have begun a phased reopening. Check here for local branch availability.
- Sample schedules to keep some structure to the day.
- Free access to educational resources.
- Enrichment activity ideas.
- Virtual field trips. Virtual museum tours.
- Community Legal Services staff are working remotely to continue to assist with civil legal questions including family law, landlord & tenant, and domestic violence. Their services are available online at www.clspgc.org or via their hotline at 240-391-6370.
Here are some tips on talking to kids about COVID-19.
Presenting in Court
The Prince George’s County Circuit Court continues to hear most CINA proceedings remotely and CASA volunteers are expected to participate. Volunteers should continue to prepare court reports for scheduled hearings and will receive further information from their Case Supervisors regarding remote hearing information. We are in touch with the Department of Social Services and the Court and will take their lead about meetings and hearings.
Contact with Case Supervisor
- Staff and volunteers continue to utilize telework technologies to complete work and engage in supervision. CASA staff will maintain contact with you through phone, video calls and email. Please stay in touch with your supervisor frequently and check your email messages often so we may communicate with you quickly.
- Regular Case Supervision will proceed, as required, via phone or video call.
- Court reports and volunteer contact logs will be especially important during this time (contact note and activity forms can be found here https://pgcasa.org/toolkit/). Unless otherwise directed by your Case Supervisor, please plan to submit your court report on the original due date.
Trainings, Events, Info Sessions & Other Group Activities
All CASA trainings sessions and information sessions remain remote until further notice. We are evaluating our ability to resume in-person events and hope to hold preservice training in person starting in spring 2022.
We know that our best source of new volunteers is the recommendation of a current volunteer advocate, and we still have big goals for recruitment this year in order to help the 300 children who still need a CASA.
We want our current volunteers to know that we’re equipping ourselves to continue recruiting, and we are holding volunteer information sessions and pre-service trainings virtually through an online, video conferencing tool. We are also holding online in-service trainings.
We will continue to evaluate group activities and events for our children, volunteers and supporters. We will make timely, appropriate decisions prioritizing the safety of our community and will immediately inform all affected by any decisions to postpone or cancel activities.
Use this time to better yourself and your community by gaining additional knowledge for your CASA role. We have many resources available for virtual in-service opportunities on our In-Service Training page. We are also looking into online learning tools and will keep you posted on virtual in-service trainings we will make available.
You can follow local updates through the Prince George’s County Department of Health and recommendations on the Maryland State Health Department’s COVID-19 website
Prince George’s County resources and status of county agencies.
Recommendations from the CDC can be found here.
We greatly appreciate your attention to this information and guidelines to help protect you and the children we serve.
Questions? Call us at 301-209-0491 or email us (email@example.com) with any questions or concerns you have may have.