We just finished a process at CASA that was hard, a bit scary, and took a darn lot of work—our audit by Texas CASA. They call it the “Quality Assurance Process”. Let me skip to the bottom line and tell you that we did great! And then I’ll tell you a bit about what was involved, and what that means for you. Especially for those who trust CASA with your money and/or your time—I thought you might be interested in reflecting with me about some of the things that go on behind the scenes at CASA.
Texas Casa Audit Requirements
For this audit, we sent to Texas CASA all of our Policy documents—67 documents in all. These include, among other things, our Board Policies (how we recruit Board members, what we require of them), our Advocate Policies (guidelines for visits with the children and family, confidentiality requirements, legal issues), and our Financial Policies (how we insure that we are 100% trustworthy in the way that we handle donor dollars). Then, Texas CASA came onsite and did a random check of our child, volunteer, personnel and financial records. They interviewed staff and board members. They looked to make sure that we have been meeting all the (267) quality standards, and that our practices are consistent with our policies. This audit was in addition to our annual financial audit by the CPA firm, Briggs & Veselka.
Our audit scores
Our scores were 100% on the volunteer files, 95% on the child files, and 100% on the staff files. On the policy side, we have one additional document we need to send in—that’s the strategic plan which the board is now updating for 2021. The words that Texas CASA used about our program included: “exemplary”, “innovative”, “well-functioning”, and “highly effective”.
CASA Child Advocates Financial and risk management policies
I’d like to take a few minutes to talk to you about our Financial and Risk Management policies that were part of this audit. These are the processes that back up our promise to treat your financial donations with complete respect, and to use every dollar for the exact purpose for which you donated it.
Here are a few components of our Financial and Risk Management policies:
- All staff, volunteer Advocates and Board members have a background check that includes a fingerprint check, SSN verification, and criminal records from all states.
- All Board members and staff sign our agreement—annually—to not engage in any conflict of interest with CASA work/dollars, and to report any potential conflict. Any purchase of $2,000 or more requires at least 3 bids.
- A Board level Finance Committee meets bimonthly to provide fiscal oversight, reviewing financial records, investments and insurance, selecting and hearing from the financial auditor (currently Briggs and Veselka).
- Checks in excess of $1,000 require a second, Board-level signature. Appropriate backup is always provided for the signature.
- All CASA mail is opened by 2 staff members together.
- The Board Treasurer reviews and initials the bank and credit card statements monthly. The Treasurer prepares financial statements for the Board, including questioning revenues or expenses that are not clear, and submits the financials to the board monthly with his analysis.
- Bank reconciliations are done by an outside CPA who does not perform ongoing bookkeeping activities.
- Gift cards donated for our kids are logged, kept under lock and key, signed out, and reconciled quarterly between the logs, gift cards and QuickBooks.
- Any donation given with a specific purpose goes into a “restricted fund”. Those dollars can/will (forever) be used only for that particular purpose. The records are kept in QuickBooks, and restricted fund expenditures are monitored by our auditors.
- We encourage the entire Board to ask questions, to pay attention to the finances, to come in and look at the books if they want, at any time.
If you, as a donor or a volunteer would like to look at our audit report(s), you can do that. Just ask.
Our annual report for 2018 will go out within the next 3 weeks. We don’t send a hard copy to everyone (financial responsibility again!)—but if you would like to see the annual report, we will send you a copy with no questions asked. [View our 2017 Annual Report here.]
Our responsibility to our county’s children in care and to you
Last year we provided an Advocate for 802 children in the foster care system in Montgomery County. We depend upon your time and donations to be able to do this work, and we take our responsibility to you very seriously. I speak on behalf of the Board when I say that we want you to be confident that we are handling your donations in an above-board, as-you-requested, and completely trustworthy way. If you have questions about this, every one of us wants you to ask!
So that’s a little about our financial policies and processes. There’s lots more, if you have that kind of interest!
We are completely delighted to be able to tell you about our success in the Texas CASA audit! It is our goal to be well-managed, always learning and growing, completely worthy of your trust, and most of all—to make a huge difference for our kids.
Thank you for working with us to make a difference for kids in our community who’ve been abused and neglected. We need your help, and we appreciate you!
Executive Director, CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County