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. 2021 marks our 30th Anniversary! Since 1991, we have delivered transformational services to over 18,000 children in Fort Bend County who have suffered physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Each year, the reports of child abuse have increased and during the past year with children isolated in their homes due to Covid-19, so many children were more at risk of escalating abuse with no one to tell. During these past months, we have kept our doors open in our Children’s Advocacy Center offering a safe place for children to tell their stories of being sexually abused or severely physically abused. We provided 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 were thrilled to open a medical clinic in Fort Bend County in partnership with Access Health so that children needing a sexual assault exam would have a local provider and not have to drive to the Texas Medical Center.
In our CASA Program, we adapted our services to be safe for children and families. Our Court Advocates continued to visit children in foster care to increase their well-being, at first virtually and then socially distanced and attend hearings and court proceedings through Zoom so that children would not fall through the cracks during these challenging times. Children in congregate care settings were particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 exposure and it was critically important that our volunteers and staff stayed in touch with these children to provide them the emotional and educational support they needed. Early on, we identified children in both CASA and our CAC who did not have laptops or hot spots and would likely suffer severe setbacks in school with the shift to online learning and further exacerbate achievement gaps that so many children of our children experience. In response, we provided 37 brand new laptops to these children. 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 or kin who were previously not involved with these children but were now willing to contribute to these children’s circle of support while in care and afterwards. We introduced new formats for N.E.S.T. and WINGS programming with virtual STEM activities, weekly Learning Boxes delivered to children so they could work on academic enrichment activities remotely while connecting virtually with our staff through online sessions. We hosted Drive-By Graduation Parades to celebrate the incredible accomplishments of our graduating seniors, many of whom were first generation grads. 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. In November, we hosted a Virtual National Adoption Day in our parking lot with Candyland balloon arches, music, toys and stuffed animals for children from babies to teens.
Underscoring the critical importance of prevention and communication, we staffed a Community Engagement Department charged with increasing education and outreach about child abuse to children, schools, teachers, parents, health care providers, day care centers, the faith community and child-serving organizations. Covid-19 forced us to reformat all our messaging to be virtual which allowed us to expand our reach. We introduced “Tuesdays at 2” featuring presentations by experts in the field of child abuse, “Engage by Cell” offered mobile continuing education to our Court Advocates, Facebook Live and regular social media posts and blogs created engagement and learning opportunities across the community. To ensure the safety of our children while being served by CAFB, we completed Praesidium training and implemented a comprehensive Safety Equation with stricter standards and practices for staff and volunteers in all aspects of our service delivery with the guiding principle that we have Zero Tolerance For Child Abuse.
The pandemic forced us to cancel all our in-person fundraising events including our Gala, Voices For Children Breakfast and Christmas Home Tour. In response, our very adaptable and creative team pivoted and created a virtual Summer Soiree and virtual Christmas Home Tour to partially fill the funding gap while reinforcing the critical messaging that child abuse was at an all-time high during these traumatic times. In addition, we were able to receive supplemental funding through new emergency grants from foundations and the CARES Act. We deeply thank our loyal individual, foundation and corporate donors who maintained their generous support, despite their personal circumstances – it was needed more than ever and we sincerely appreciate it.
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