Letter from Our CEO - Child Advocates of Fort Bend
Letter from Our CEO

Welcome to Child Advocates of Fort Bend and to the many programs, services and resources available to children, families, volunteers, parents and the community to help children who have been abused and neglected find safety, healing and justice while preventing other children from experiencing abuse.  2024 marks our 33rd Anniversary.  Since 1991, we have delivered transformational services to over 23,000 children in Fort Bend County who have suffered physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.

The past year marked many milestones in serving children and families.  We surpassed 23,000 children served since we began.  We trained and assigned our 1000th CASA Volunteer.  And we reached over 18,000 children, caregivers and community members with child abuse prevention education.  In 2023, we served 3,293 children and families with a far higher incidence of severe, complex and multi-symptomatic cases of abuse.  Reports of child abuse for Fort Bend County children totaled 6,649 – a shocking number and roughly equivalent to 3 large high schools.  We provided a safe place for children to tell their stories of abuse during 1,227 forensic interviews where we heard harrowing stories from children who had endured sexual and severe physical abuse often for months or years before they spoke up.  We provided a CASA Volunteer Advocate for 100% of children in foster care so that their voices were heard and their best interests could be realized.   Our Davis George Campus which we remodeled a few years ago served us well with expanded therapy and mental health services to meet the ever increasing needs of children experiencing trauma.  And our Training and Learning Center hosted an extensive offering of new trainings and educational workshops for volunteers, staff, partners and the community.

Our clinicians and direct services team of therapists, social workers, child and family advocates, forensic nurses, and interviewers here at CAFB are trained in trauma-care and are working round the clock with these children to ensure that they don’t fall through the cracks, that they get the medical and mental health services they need, that they have access to every support available so that they can move beyond the abuse to be healthy and happy. We stand firmly committed to our mission of Strengthening the Voices of these Children, Healing their Hurt, and Breaking the Cycle of Abuse and Neglect.  Our core values of CHILD provided the bedrock to do the work we do in the face of challenges:  Collaborative, Healing, Inclusive, Life-Changing and Dedicated. Our vision — To End the Cycle of Abuse and Neglect – is our moonshot and keeps us focused and dedicated to put every resource available towards early identification, intervention, treatment and prevention.

In our Children’s Advocacy Center, we added clinical and professional staff in every service line so that children had a safe place for children to tell their stories of being sexually abused or severely physically abused.  We delivered life-saving therapy and mental health services, case management, and clinical family advocacy so that child victims were able to heal, move beyond their abuse and become survivors.  We increased access to medical care for our children at our forensic medical clinic in Richmond dedicated to children served by CAFB who needed a sexual assault exam.  And we continued to offer psychiatric services on-site with our partnership with UT Health Sciences Pediatric and Adolescent Psychiatry services.

In our CASA Program, we incorporate trauma-informed care across all our services with teams dedicated to Wellbeing of the Whole Child, Trauma-Informed Care, Collaborative Family Engagement which focuses on family preservation and Trauma-Focused Court Advocacy.  We expanded our Courtesy CASA Services and are now visiting children across the state of Texas who are placed out of their counties of origin as well as children placed out of state so that no child falls through the cracks.  We cheered for our high school seniors who graduated and earned their degrees which is a life-changing accomplishment for youth in foster care given the many hardships and hurdles they face and a key metric for breaking the generational cycle of abuse.  And we celebrated children being adopted into their “forever families” at our National Adoption Day celebration.

Child Abuse Prevention is the most recent addition to our services and has become the focus of our community engagement work and our framing of child abuse as a public health epidemic.  By shifting our focus away from the traditional criminal justice model of abuse and toward education, identification of risk factors, early intervention, and treatment, our prevention team is engaging with school districts, day care centers, the faith community, and youth-serving organizations throughout Fort Bend County with hundreds of presentations, information pamphlets, online sessions and social media announcements for children, teachers, parents, and health care providers.

We renewed our commitment to provide diverse, equitable and inclusive services, recognizing the disproportionality of children of color in the child welfare system.  We engaged a culture coach and have trained staff in the historical context of racial bias and updated practices and training to ensure cultural sensitivity for all children.

We hosted three hugely successful fundraisers including our “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” Gala, Voices For Children “Transforming Lives” Breakfast and 32nd Christmas Home Tour.  We are deeply grateful to our loyal donors who joined us and were so very generous.  We enlarged our portfolio of private foundations with new grantors and maintained the continuing support from our long-term foundations.  We deeply thank our individual, foundation and corporate donors for their unwavering support.

In 2024, we are shifting our focus from programs to services with “18 SERVICES” – a novel approach to offer greater access to all the 18 services we provide for all the children we serve by creating an inter-agency referral and service delivery process. CAFB is uniquely positioned to do this since we are one of the only agencies in the state of Texas with both CASA and CAC Programs.  Our focus then turns to three multi-year cross-agency initiatives focused on Collaboration:   1) Prevention – lead a county-wide initiative called Child Abuse Prevention Collaborative (CAP-C) focused exclusively on child abuse prevention with a human centered design stakeholder research study to inform us about steps that could have been taken upstream and prototyping a model for prevention 2) Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking Care Coordination – launch a county-wide initiative focused on the identification and recovery of children who have been sex trafficked. 3) TBRI Collaborative – CAFB is taking the lead in a county-wide initiative called Trust Based Relational Intervention to bring trauma training to all child welfare professionals and advocates.

We will close out our For The Children’s Sake Capital Campaign by building a Wellness Park for our children and staff which will incorporate sensory and meditation elements for self-care and healing, a playing field and expanded parking.

Today, we are stronger than ever.   With thirty-three years of experience, countless innovations in programming and service delivery, a dedicated staff of professionals committed to doing whatever it takes to improve the lives of children who have been abused, generous donors and diversified funding, and a committed Board of Directors, Child Advocates of Fort Bend is steadfast in our vision to end the cycle of abuse.

Ruthanne Mefford
Chief Executive Officer