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. 2023 marks our 32nd Anniversary. Since 1991, we have delivered transformational services to 23,500 children in Fort Bend County who have suffered physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.
The past year was pivotal as we emerged from the lockdowns of the previous two years and returned fully to in-person services for our children. We served 3,833 children and families over the past year with a far higher incidence of severe, complex and multi-symptomatic cases of abuse. Reports of child abuse were at an all-time high with 7,133 reports of child abuse, just for Fort Bend County — an increase of 14% in just one year. These children were able to tell their stories of abuse during 1,253 forensic interviews. We heard harrowing stories from children who had endured sexual and severe physical abuse often for months or years before they spoke up. Courts reopened following closures during the pandemic which allowed us to be that voice for children in the courtroom for hundreds of children so that they could find safety, healing and justice. Our expanded Davis George Campus which we remodeled just prior to the pandemic was now fully reopened allowing us take advantage of the many new therapy rooms for children, family meeting rooms for our case managers to counsel families and our new Training and Learning Center where we hosted an extensive offering of new trainings and educational workshops for volunteers, staff, partners and the community.
As we are all aware, the pandemic has had devastating effects on children in our community. But we are just learning how serious and long-lasting the impact has been, especially for children who have experienced abuse and neglect. 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 three years and we stand firmly committed to 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 added psychiatric services on-site with a new partnership with UT Health Sciences Pediatric and Adolescent Psychiatry services. We are dedicating resources for children who have been trafficked by serving as Care Coordinator for the region to ensure that these specialized cases get proper attention.
In our CASA Program, we reorganized our staff and services around a trauma framework that incorporated Wellbeing of the Whole Child, Trauma-Informed Care, Collaborative Family Engagement to create new connections with family members who were previously not involved with these children 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. And we once again celebrated 100% high school graduation for our seniors which is a huge accomplishment for children in foster care given the many hardships and hurdles these children face and a key metric for breaking the generational cycle of abuse. And we celebrated children being adopted in 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 were delighted to be in-person for our 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 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.
As we look to the coming year, we will continue with the capital expansion of our campus by building a Wellness Park for our children and staff which will incorporate sensory and meditation elements for self-care and healing. We will also build a parking lot to accommodate our expansion.
Today, we are stronger than ever. With our state-of-the-art 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-two 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