As we continue to monitor the effects of (COVID-19) and its impact
on all our lives, we have updated our protocols in order to support you as a
volunteer in your service to children and families, as they will continue to
need our support, especially during these trying times
For our volunteer advocates and staff, the following changes will
be made to our standard child visit practices:
Effective immediately we
are suspending all child and family visits.
We are requiring weekly contact
via a video-conferencing tools during the hiatus of in-person visits to
verbal-aged children, and to caregivers if children are too young to speak.
In the event a child is
too young for video or phone calls, please use video conferencing when possible
to see the children to ensure they are okay while you are speaking to the
If video is not
possible, phone calls must be made. If you need assistance meeting this
requirement, please let your supervisor know immediately.
These restrictions will
remain in effect through 3/31/2020, at which time, AACASA will re-evaluate and
communicate with our volunteers before that time.
Please remember it is
vital to have eyes on the children we serve in any way possible to help them
stay calm and connected. Not communicating with a child during these stressful
and difficult times, when connections are most valuable could undo all of the
work done to create a relationship.
Court Hearings: Please see email below sent by both Judge Baker
and Judge Graham:
The Northern Panhandle Child Protection Court will be
following the recommendations of the Office of Court Administration regarding
upcoming hearings. Because of the potential limited access to
videoconferencing, we intend to teleconference everything that we possibly
can. You will be receiving further information about how you and clients
can accomplish this in the next several days. The following will be
guidelines during this period of
Adversary Hearings: Please talk in advance and try
to seek agreements where possible. If no agreement can be reached, an
extension MAY be granted. We simply cannot put off everything or none of
us are going to function very well for the next several months. If
contested, these hearings will likely be held telephonically and so you MUST
exchange exhibits in advance, including providing those to the Court. I
will not review the exhibits until offered and normal objections made during
Permanency Hearings: Again, any agreements you can
reach in advance is great. As you all know, I read the reports in advance
of hearings, so I am typically aware of how the children are doing and
the progress parents have made, unless some significant issue or change occurs
the time the reports are filed and the hearing. If there are no new
issues, I will accept an agreed order, signed by counsel (and indicating
whether their client has agreed or client has not had contact). No
hearing will be necessary if an agreed order is submitted. Please submit
agreed orders at least one day in advance of the hearing because we will be
scheduling telephonic hearings as set out below, and need to know what we are
going to have or not save. Counsel will be paid the usual fees for agreed
orders. If there are issues that must be raised in a hearing, these will
be held telephonically.
Final Hearings: We will go forward telephonically with any
final hearings that are not contested, or finals where parents are not expected
to appear, monitored returns or dismissals. Again, any exhibits must be
exchanged in advance. All contested final hearings will likely be
Telephonic Hearings in General: Hearings will be assigned
a designated time. Counsel, if you are unavailable at that time,
either provide us an alternate attorney who will cover, or a written report of
your client’s position. We will not be able to jump around like we do in
our normal dockets. Permanency Hearings will be allotted 15-minute time
slots. Adversary hearings will be allotted an hour, unless you contact
the Court in advance to discuss alternative timeframes. In all telephonic
hearings, there will be very strict enforcement of question and answer, and
interruptions and talking over one another will not be permitted as our Court
Reporters are going to struggle enough with this as is. Everyone is going to
have to slow down. It should be noted that as of this morning
(3/16/20) the telephone conference line is already overtaxed and we have been
getting a busy signal. If you or your clients have tried to call the
conference line during your allotted time period and cannot connect, DO NOT continue
to call as we will have already moved on to the next hearing. That
hearing will have to be rescheduled at a later date.
All Volunteers having court hearings are requested to participate via telephone from the CASA office thus
eliminating the need for multiple calls into the conference line.
It is of great importance to have all court reports submitted in
ample time to allow the judges to read your concerns and recommendations prior
to the court hearing.
PC meetings, mediations,
Family Group Conferences, ARD’s and other meetings should be attended by phone
or online means such as Zoom, Go To Meeting or Skype.
Our office will be open;
however we will continue to monitor the situation. Should the need arise, it is
possible staff may have to work remotely. We will update you should the
· Café CASA's are cancelled until further notice.
Trainings, Events, Info Session:
We are continuously evaluating
all future trainings and events. 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 other future activities.
Amarillo Area CASA
remains dedicated to continue serving the children in our care while maintaining
the safety and well-being of our volunteers, children and staff as a priority. As the situation is constantly evolving, we
will continue to evaluate our practices and response, and this page will be
updated to reflect the most recent information for our community.
Please contact your
immediate supervisor if you have any questions or concerns.