Children benefit when state agencies embrace House Bill 1462

Oct 15 2013

By Cruz Correa

The 81st Texas Legislature adopted House Bill 1462 in 2009 and it reads in part:

"A state employee may be granted leave not to exceed five hours each month to participate in mandatory training or perform volunteer services for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) without a deduction in salary or loss of vacation time, sick leave, earned overtime credit, or state compensatory time"

What this means is that state employees of Texas are able to use 5 hours of work time per month to volunteer with CASA of Travis County and any other CASA program in Texas. The Legislature recognized that CASA volunteers serve children who are, on at least a temporary basis, the state’s responsibility and so they offered to support state employees willing to make the commitment to volunteer their time to help these children. With a workforce that is estimated at around 235,000 strong, a bigger resource for volunteer recruitment would be hard to find.  As a result we have seen state agencies such as the Office of the Attorney General, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts and the Department of Aging and Disabilities, amongst others, participate and proactively encourage their employees to volunteer with CASA by holding informational sessions for their employees in their respective departments.

Last year 650 children here in Austin still needed a CASA volunteer to speak up for their best interest, with thousands more in need around the state. As our city and state grow, so does the number of children coming into the foster care system. This means that the number of volunteers required to meet our vision of having a trained volunteer for every child who needs one is also growing.

Although some state agencies have been proactive in their approach to HB1462, there are still some that have not gotten involved with CASA. If just 1% of all state employees became CASA volunteers, approximately 4,700 more children in Texas would have someone working to make sure their needs are being heard and met.

We encourage anyone who works for a state agency to inquire about HB1462 with their Human Resource department and ask that CASA of Travis County or the nearest local CASA program be invited to share information concerning the welfare of children in foster care and how you can make a difference in the life of a child. For more information, please contact Strategic Partnerships Manager Cruz Correa at ccorrea@casatravis.org.