More help may soon be available for those affected by COVID-19.
Grant-Harney County CASA Executive Director Hannah Hinman said the court appointed special advocates organization expects a grant from the Oregon Health Authority to provide wraparound services to people who test positive for the coronavirus and are asked to quarantine or have had close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. She said the services could include assistance with rent, mortgage, utilities or other basic needs, such as grocery and prescription deliveries.
“It’s a big financial impact for a lot of people to stay home for two weeks and not go to work,” she said.
Hinman said there is still a long way to go before CASA can offer the services. The organization still needs to hire, onboard and train an employee, and establish a process for handling referrals from both the Grant and Harney county health departments.
She said the funding is through the coronavirus relief fund and other funding streams.
She said the funding opened up in March, and CASA did not apply for the wraparound service funding.
Still, she said, CASA did commit a couple of hours a week to disseminate accurate COVID-19 information in the community.
She said because CASA accepted the community engagement grant, they began internally discussing offering the services.
Hinman said wraparound service is not something the organization typically does. Still, Hinman said, OHA and the Grant County Health Department felt like it would be a good idea to have something available for people.
She said the Central Oregon Disability Services network, the organization that covers Grant County, could not keep up when the county saw a 900% increase in infections in the fall.
Since then, she said CODS, along with the People Mover and churches in Grant County, have been able to keep up, and the county has not seen the uptick in cases like it did in November.
She said the base funding for the wraparound services will be $15,710 over six months, and they were also approved for $4,950 to continue the community engagement and outreach.
Hinman said the outreach and engagement allowed them to partner with the health department, Blue Mountain Hospital District, Community Counseling Solutions, Community Health Improvement Coalition and local businesses.
In recent months, she said, the outreach has consisted of posting flyers around the county and providing personal protective equipment. Hinman said CASA provided colorable bookmarks in the “Healthy and Fit” boxes that the hospital district gave to kids instead of the in-person event it typically hosts.
Hinman said CASA will be coming up with a COVID-19-related activity with prizes and giveaways as part of mental health kits to be sent out to students because the Teen Mental Health Fair hosted by CCS and its partners will not be held in person.
New CASA volunteers
Earlier this month, two volunteers from Grant and Harney counties were sworn in as Court Appointed Special Advocates.
Grant-Harney County CASA will now have an advocate appointed to 35 of the 67 children eligible to have one, just over half, according to Hinman.
Like other organizations, Hinman said CASA was not immune to COVID-19 and its challenges when it comes to training and recruiting.
She said the 40-hour training for the two new volunteers, Mark Creighton and Stephanie Moothart, was completely virtual.
“This year has created challenges for our organization in recruiting and training new CASA volunteers,” she said. “And we have been working hard to adjust our previous approaches.”
Hinman said the addition of Creighton and Moothart brings the total number of volunteers up to 19.
“As soon as they’re assigned to a case, they will help us serve more children,” she said.