At our core, Voices for Children believes in the power of human connection. Now more than ever, these connections are necessary and can outshine any fears or uncertainty we may have.
We want to continue to encourage community members to follow safety protocols, including practicing social distancing. As a precaution, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers in San Diego and Riverside Counties have been advised to forego their in-person responsibilities for the time being, including visits with their case children. To aid our CASA volunteers in maintaining and even building relationships with their case children while they are unable to meet in person, we compiled a list of fun and productive activities they can enjoy with youth from a distance.
Although this list was made for our CASA volunteers, anyone can use these suggestions to connect with their loved ones virtually.
Virtual Visits with Your Case Child
- Create a vision board: The CASA or the caregiver can provide the child with pictures from a magazine that reflect the child’s feelings or future aspirations. Then the CASA and their case child can assemble it together via FaceTime or Skype and plan to share it once in-person visits resume.
- Scavenger hunts: Working with the caregiver, create a list of items that the child can find in the home, then provide the child riddles or clues over the phone so that they identify and then find the item.
- FaceTime/Skype: Communicate via FaceTime or Skype. Activities could include reading an age-appropriate book to your case child, or have them read to you; playing 20 questions; having lunch; playing board games, etc., over FaceTime or Skype.
- Pen pals: Send the child stationery and self-addressed stamped envelopes (to the Voices for Children mailing address) and have the case child write you letters.
- Coloring books: Get matching coloring books for you and your case child and color the same picture, possibly while online together, to send each other or to compare once in-person visits resume.
- Virtual spa day: You and your case child give yourselves an at-home face mask, manicure, or pedicure over FaceTime or Skype.
- Kindoma Storytime: This iPhone/iPad app allows for users to read stories while video chatting. The free app comes with access to 10 books; after that, users can buy stories individually or through a subscription. The books target children ages 3 to 6. Kindoma.com is also beta testing two new apps, Kindoma Drawtime and Kindoma Talktime.
- Virtual book club: While schools are closed, Audible is offering hundreds of audio books for free for children and youth. Consider listening to the same book and making plans to discuss it over the phone.
- Interview practice: For older youth, CASAs can research potential job interview questions and help their youth practice interviewing over the phone.
- Virtual movies: Watch the same age-appropriate movie on television or computer and then discuss it over the phone, either during or after the movie.
- Tutorials: Watch the same YouTube tutorial video, either independently or together via a split screen on FaceTime, and plan to practice your new skill together later.
- Museum tours: Go on a virtual tour of a famous museum and then each decide on a painting to recreate or put your own spin on.
- Missed activities: Ask older children about the experiences, such as field trips and dances, that they are missing due to Coronavirus / COVID-19 precautions and brainstorm ways to recreate, either virtually or once restrictions are lifted.
Virtual Visits With An Older Youth
- Use the HouseParty app to virtually connect and play games together – games include trivia, Pictionary, Heads up. Just make sure to “lock” the conversation once you are both in so no one else can join.
- Work on homework packets/school lessons together – if you use Zoom you can have them share their screen. Again, if you use Zoom you should lock the room once you are both in.
- Teach them something new through FaceTime– how to cook, how to paint, anything you know how to do!
- Learn something together if you don’t have a particular skill to share. Youtube has a lot of tutorial videos.
- Do a Mad Libs workbook, just make sure the theme is age appropriate
- Play a video or computer game together
- Tour the Zoo or Disneyland rides together (these are both online now) and try to guess each other’s favorite animal or ride
- Make a list of things the youth needs to work on like job hunting, FAFSA, enroll in school, missed medical appointments, etc. and then create a list or a vision board and get going on the things that can be done now, and then be sure to focus on the other things when the stay at home order is lifted.
- Send resources for what the youth needs–i.e. therapy, food banks, technology resources–VFC has a lot of resources right now, just ask!
- If you have a nonminor dependent, when you are at the store, text them to see if there are any supplies they are running short on and then drop it off at their placement. Use your best judgement and talk to your supervisor about spending.
- Look for job openings and help them fill out job applications
- Do a mock interview–send them questions ahead of time and let them prepare their answers, see where their weaknesses lay and most importantly their strengths–any confidence boost you can give is great
- Look up community service options so you can hit the ground running when we are back to normal
- Each pick your favorite movie or book and then have the other one read/watch it. Then decide who picked a better one??
- Play board games virtually
- Have a Netflix party