Commonly Asked Questions About CARES
What about gifts – is it okay if I give my CARES student one? And what should I do if he/she gives one to me?
Volunteers and students are already sharing the greatest gifts: time together and caring. Freely given and mutually appreciated, the relationship between a CARES volunteer and student is already a precious gift.
Gifts of other kinds – "things" – can change a relationship. Children are learning from us all the time, and so as adults we can help children by modeling a genuine caring that is not connected to "things."
As traditional gift-giving times of the year approach, it can be a relief for your CARES student and you to talk openly about gifts. Simply thanking your CARES student for what they have already given you (enjoyment in seeing them learn, try their best, etc.) is enough. Sometimes it helps to say it really clearly in advance like "You've already given me the best gift just by being you! Let's not exchange any more gifts than just being ourselves, ok?"
Small tokens like a pencil, bookmark or card, even though still unnecessary, can at least be discreetly handled during the school day around other students. If your student gives you something that seems more than what you are comfortable accepting, please let the school's CARES Coordinator or principal know. Or, if you discover a real need your CARES student has (winter coat, shoes, etc.), the school's social worker, nurse, or principal can help meet their need without connecting it to you.
How can I stay on top of early release and no school days?
CARES volunteers are welcome to school calendars and newsletters which include important dates like these. Paper copies are always available from the school office, or you can access calendars electronically at: www.elkhart.k12.in.us/calendar.php
Although schools work hard to prevent CARES volunteers from coming when a student is absent or unavailable, it can happen when a student becomes ill during the day or there is an emergency. Unfortunately, similar things happen even for the most dedicated of volunteers as well. Finding out from your CARES school who to contact, and how to best reach one another in the event of a change, helps in both directions. Some volunteers prefer to work it out with the school to call before coming, while others use the time to write a note to their student in the rare event they arrive on a day the student is absent.
What are the "rules" about being a CARES volunteer?
CARES is by design simple and free of complex rules so the individual needs of students and volunteers are best served.
Yet the few rules CARES has are very important:
1. Every adult volunteering in a school directly with, or around students, must complete a CARES form in advance and is subject to criminal background checks.
2. CARES volunteers are to be reliable in their relationship to the student and the school.
3. CARES volunteers are to limit their contact with students to the school setting during scheduled times.
Each school has its own procedures in addition to these basics (like where to park, which door to enter, where to meet with students, etc.) There's always someone available to answer specific questions at each school, or by contacting the CARES office: 262-5944 or CARES@elkhart.k12.in.us