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. 2022 marked our 30th Anniversary! Since 1991, we have delivered transformational services to 20,594 children in Fort Bend County who have suffered physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.
Over the past two years, child abuse was at an all-time high. We served 20% more children and families in 2021 than in the previous year, which was an increase of 22% over 2019. This reflects an ongoing trend with both more reports of child abuse and increased severity of abuse. The physical isolation of children in homes and away from the classroom for the majority of this time, created environments that were often unsafe, traumatic, violent and in some cases deadly. Reports of abuse initially were suppressed because children were away from the watchful eyes of teachers, doctors and neighbors. But, over the months as the community started to open up, child abuse reports surged. In response, we provided 1,466 forensic interviews of children, more than in any other year in our history. And we heard harrowing stories from children who endured abuse before they spoke up or were identified. As we all know, the pandemic has had devastating effects on children in our community. For children who have experienced abuse and neglect, the impact is often far more serious and long-lasting. 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. Our mission has never been tested as it was these past two years and we stand firmly committed to Strengthening the Voices of these Children, Healing their Hurt, and Breaking the Cycle of Abuse and Neglect. This informed our updated vision — To End the Cycle of Abuse and Neglect – this is our moonshot and it will keep us focused and dedicated to put every resource towards early identification, intervention, treatment and prevention.
In our Children’s Advocacy Center, we have kept our doors open throughout the many closures in our community and provided 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. And we increased access to medical care for our children with our new clinic in Richmond dedicated to children served by CAFB who needed a sexual assault exam.
In our CASA Program, our staff and Court Advocates visited children in foster care and attended court proceedings with a hybrid blend of virtual and in-person support to ensure the well-being of these children who were especially vulnerable during these challenging times. Children in congregate care settings were challenged even further when many group homes were closed and children had to adapt to being moved to new unfamiliar placements. Our Courtesy CASAs visited scores of children who were in placements far from their home counties, to check on their well-being and access critical medical care, educational resources, and mental health services. We doubled our efforts to support family connections by expanding our Collaborative Family Engagement services to all children in foster care so that they could create new connections with family members who were previously not involved with these children. We introduced hybrid formats for N.E.S.T. and WINGS programming with virtual STEM activities, Academic Learning Boxes, “socially-distanced” in-person Summer workshops and drive-in Incentive Parties for children who achieved their personal goals. We hosted an outdoor Commencement Ceremony for our high school graduates to celebrate the incredible accomplishments of our graduating seniors, many of whom were first generation grads and a National Adoption Day “Lego-themed” celebration complete with balloon arches, food and game booths, petting zoo and an ice cream truck. Once again, we had 100% of our seniors graduate high school – a remarkable achievement given the many hurdles and hardships these children and youth have faced.
Underscoring the critical importance of prevention and communication, we expanded our Community Engagement with targeted outreach to 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 providing a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace and services by engaging Collective Experience Group, an equity consulting firm, which completed a comprehensive Discovery and Assessment project including document review of all our policies and practices, surveys, stakeholder interviews and focus groups. We convened an internal multi-disciplinary Champion Team to drive the implementation and communication processes which will be rolled out in 2022 and beyond.
We were delighted to return to in-person fundraising events including our Gala, Voices For Children Breakfast and Christmas Home Tour. We are deeply grateful to our loyal donors who showed up and were very generous with their gifts. We also introduced the Transforming Lives initiative which focused on six areas of giving to provide donors and supporters with opportunities for targeted impact in their giving and held small group gatherings with donors throughout the year which raised over $1 million. We enlarged our portfolio of private foundations with new grantors and maintained the continuing support from our long-term foundations. In addition, we were able to receive supplemental funding through a second PPP loan from the CARES Act. We deeply thank our loyal individual, foundation and corporate donors who for their unwavering support, despite their personal circumstances – it was needed more than ever and we sincerely appreciate it.
With our pivoting to outdoor events and serving an ever-increasing number of children and families, we needed to further increase our capacity. We constructed a Multi-Function Building in the rear of our parking lot to serve as a collection and distribution center for items for our children and families including blankets, stuffed animals, toys, clothes and other basic needs. We connected this to an existing outbuilding which we reformatted for storage and event workspace, then connected the two with an outdoor Pavilion to provide a venue for all the many outdoor events we have transitioned to: adoption day celebrations, commencement ceremonies, children’s programming and summer, spring and fall break events. Just completed in November, this space has already been put to good use with our Elf Parties in December where we distributed Christmas toys to hundreds of children.
Today, we are stronger than ever. With our newly expanded Davis George Campus, we are now able to serve more child victims, train more volunteers, office more professional staff, and co-house more of our Multi-Disciplinary Team partners in the Child Abuse Divisions of the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, County Attorney’s Office, CPS and Sheriff’s Office. With thirty 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 will continue to serve the children and families of Fort Bend County for years to come.
Chief Executive Officer