What are CASA Volunteers Financially Responsible for?

Dec 27 2018

piggy-bank

by Ashika Sethi

While embarking on the noble journey to become a CASA volunteer, there are often some questions that come up along the way. One of the most common concerns we get from potential volunteers relates to how much our volunteers are financially responsible for during their advocacy at CASA. Never fear–we at CASA are here to help explain what you do and don’t need to pay for (spoiler alert: not much)!

From traveling to visit a child in another town to purchasing essential items a family or child needs, there can be several financial roadblocks that may halt a potential volunteer from considering CASA. However, CASA volunteers are only expected to pay for reasonable travel expenses and small purchases during child visits. Virtually everything else will be covered by CASA or one of our partners.

We ask that CASA volunteers not bear the financial responsibility for the kids we serve, mainly in the interest of keeping the children and volunteers safe. “We’re looking to protect children and volunteers, and our policies reflect that,” says Alisa DeLuna, Senior Director of Community Initiatives. “These children are vulnerable, and we have to balance that CASA volunteers are strangers who are given access to them and incredible influence over them. We don’t want children to feel unsafe or to create unnecessary power dynamics through money.”

If, though, you notice a child or family is in need of a few items, we can help. In fact, we have a toy closet at the CASA office to help with a child or family’s specific needs. Our closet is filled with toys and activities for volunteers to take with them on in-person visits with kids as well as baby supplies, new mom supplies, weighted blankets, and a mix of fun trauma-informed items. All of our toy closet items are new and donated by generous members of our community.

We also have several programs and partners that will help provide the needed items to the children so the CASA volunteer doesn’t have to pay out of pocket. In addition to our toy closet, we also partner with organizations like Pop-Up Birthday and Foster Angels so children and families get the help they need. On special occasions or in cases of specific need, CASA does have a fund for some of these direct purchases.

But what about travel, you ask? After our volunteers have gone through training and have been appointed to a case, they are expected to visit the child or children they are appointed to at least once a month. If the child is placed farther than 180 miles from the capitol of Texas, our volunteers are only required to visit once every six months. Our volunteers are responsible for paying transportation costs like gas and parking when visiting a child that is placed within 180 miles from the capitol. If they need to fly out of state for a child visit, we at CASA can help with reimbursement. During these in-person visits, we ask that CASA volunteers not spend more than $25 per visit on a child. This money usually goes towards meals and outings during the visit.*

During the holiday season, we host an annual toy drive so that the kids we serve can receive something special from their CASA volunteers. This is an amazing relationship-building opportunity for CASA volunteers and the kids we serve! All gifts are donated from generous community members and are given to the children from the CASA volunteers.

While we deeply appreciate how charitable our CASA volunteers are, our role at CASA is to help guide the children to permanency. We’re only able to help children for so long, and we want to leave them and their families in a place where they are not financially dependent on CASA volunteers.

*We have community partnerships including the Thinkery that donate free tickets for our CASA volunteers and kids to use during visits. If you have more questions about our community partnerships, contact Sara Black at sblake@casatravis.org.