I hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. The past few months have been challenging at Child Advocates of Fort Bend but we are adapting and developing new ways of delivering services to our children and families, working both remotely through our CASA Program and on-site at our Children’s Advocacy Center, and creating new programming, training and outreach via technology. We have learned new ways of advocating for and providing critical treatment for our children. Many of these digital services have proven so successful that we will be incorporating them in the future as part of our regular programming. Our CAC team and CASA staff and Volunteer Advocates have been very focused on being responsive and proactive during this time of isolation for so many of our children when increases in child abuse are occurring and yet not reported because children are not in school. Our Summer WINGS and N.E.S.T. programs have been converted to virtual formats with “WINGS in a Box” and “N.E.S.T. in a Box” educational enrichment and life skills boxes developed for all our children and youth. Our “drive by” Graduation Parades and Incentive Parades were so well received by our high school seniors and school-aged children that we may continue these next year. “Drip Training” delivered in bite-sized digital format has been a hit with our volunteers and we are planning an “all virtual” pre-service training for new volunteers in the Fall. Our Voices For Children Tours have gone virtual and we have been able to showcase our new building remotely and engage so many more people who may not have been able to attend a tour in person. Our “Transforming Lives” Summer Soiree on Saturday, August 22 has been converted to a virtual event with online bidding starting in mid-August and the “live” event coming to you via technology so you can enjoy the evening from the safety of your homes. Thank you to all our volunteers who have adapted so beautifully and to our donors who have stayed with us during these very challenging times when we have had to cancel so many fundraisers. We appreciate all your support and dedication.
For the Children’s Sake,
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend
Donor Spotlight: Thad Olive “Quotes for Good”
Like a good neighbor…local State Farm Agent, Thad Olive is there!
Many thanks to Thad for his recent donation to Child Advocates of Fort Bend. Thad surprised us during a virtual Sugar Land Exchange Club meeting following a Voices For Children “Behind the Scenes” Tour!
Thad has a special place in his heart for the work we do. He spent 25 years in law enforcement working with programs like ours. And when he retired and began his second career in the insurance industry, he wanted to continue to support the work being done for children and families in the community.
Thad has chosen Child Advocates of Fort Bend as his recipient of State Farm’s “Quotes for Good” program. Beginning in August, for every household that requests an auto or fire quote, a $10 donation will be made to Child Advocates of Fort Bend. Be sure to mention Quotes for Good and CAFB for the quote to qualify.
To reach Thad, call 832.999.4292 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. When you chat with him ask about the newest member of the State Farm/Thad Olive family – Annie Pearl – she’s a sweetheart! Thank you, Thad, for your commitment to Child Advocates of Fort Bend. We are grateful!
The majority of our Children’s Advocacy Center staff have remained in the office with safety measures in place to protect children and families, staff, partners and volunteers. A few staff members are able to work from home but come to the office as needed.
Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)
In the CAC, we are seeing increases in reports of child abuse after months of very low reporting. In fact, our interview numbers are on par with what we saw in 2019 with 110+ for both June and July. Our caring, professional staff have been extremely busy throughout this pandemic and we are so proud of them for adapting to this new way of working and never skipping a beat as they work toward the best outcomes for children.
Thank you for donating masks and activity bags.
We are so grateful to everyone who has donated masks, activity bags and other items to us. The children and their families really appreciate your generosity. Children continue to receive activity bags upon arrival that they take with them when they leave. We’ve adapted our waiting areas and are placing families in separate spaces with volunteers helping in each area. Despite the challenges this poses, children and families continue to have a positive experience in our Center. In fact, several children have enjoyed our kind volunteers, the activity bags and our beautiful new space so much that we’ve overheard them asking if they can come back the next day.
Between the new accommodations we have made to ensure family separation and volunteers who are not ready to come back due to the pandemic, the CAC remains in need of volunteers. Please reach out to Jen Brown at email@example.com if you are interested in becoming a CAC volunteer.
We are excited to have two new team members and one current team member who has moved to a new position on our therapy team. (Read more about all three of them in our welcome to new team members post below.) In addition, 15 volunteers will attend training this month to support children by joining our caring volunteer team in our Children’s Advocacy Center.
Court Appointed Special Advocates Program (CASA)
CASA Volunteer Advocates are seeing children and families with safety measures in place and continue to advocate for children’s best interests and attend hearings via virtual means. CASA Volunteer Shirley Thornton was recognized this month for her wonderful and brave testimony and advocacy during a trial for a child and just last week, we held a virtual Case Closing Celebration for 18 volunteers who closed cases in the last 7 months to celebrate them and thank them for all of their hard work.
Our work continues. . .
In response to an impact survey that our CASA team did at the beginning of COVID where Residential Treatment Centers (RTCs) reported needing activities for the kids, our CASA team put together Trust Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) toolkits. Two have already been shipped out. One went to Parks Youth Ranch as they are part of the TBRI Collaborative project for our region. The other went to an RTC in San Antonio which is a placement for one of our youth.
Our WINGS and NEST teams have found creative solutions for delivering our summer programs. The WINGS Life Skills program provides youth 14 and up with hands-on experience to learn important skills that they will need as they transition into adulthood. Program curriculum topics include: Education, Career Readiness, Financial Literacy, Health, Housing, Transportation and Foster Alumni Resources. COVID-19 has forced us to re-imagine how we deliver these services. This year, youth will receive boxes with information and exercises for them to complete. We’ve mailed our first set of boxes and youth are already busy working on them. First topic – Career Readiness. (see photo above).
The Back to School Summer Program for children 6-13 has a new format this summer too! Instead of coming into our office and heading out on field trips, our N.E.S.T. Team will be hosting four ZOOM sessions with our school-aged children. The four “show and tell” sessions focus on school readiness in the subjects of Health and Hygiene, Social Development, and Education.
Students will receive four different craft kits that include resources and activities to complete prior to the ZOOM sessions. During the sessions, each student will get a chance to share their work with one another as we discuss topics such as COVID-19, a self-written book about their daily lives, how to study and their organize planners, and how to create a structured schedule at home.
We are so thankful for all our volunteers, partners, friends and community members who have helped us in these challenging times. From making masks to volunteering in the playrooms, finding new ways to connect children and families to helping us with these new celebrations – you are the glue that holds it together. We need your help now more than ever.
We are excited to have two new staff members who have joined our team as Therapist and Bilingual Therapist in our Children’s Advocacy Center – Kandece Money and Nicole Muniz.
Kandece is a Licensed Professional Counselor Intern. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Kansas. She earned her Master of Education in Counseling from the University of Houston. Kandece comes to us from Arrow Child and Family Ministries, where she was a Therapist in the Foster Care Program. She previously worked as a School-based Counselor with Abundant Life Therapeutic Services, and as a Therapist at Fowler and Tidwell Counseling.
Nicole is a Licensed Master Social Worker. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Houston. For her graduate school internships, Nicole was a Bilingual Counselor Intern at the Montgomery County Women’s Center and an Employee Assistance Program Intern at Texas Children’s Hospital.
In addition to having new staff, we are excited to announce that Amna Ahmed has transitioned to a new position as Therapist in our Children’s Advocacy Center. Amna is a Licensed Master Social Worker who joined the CAFB family several years ago – first as a 2nd year Social Work intern through the University of Houston. Upon completing her Master of Social Work, she joined us as a Clinical Family Advocate. Already an integral part of our Children’s Advocacy Center, we are thrilled to have her join our therapy team!
We are looking forward to working with all of them.
Our Outreach team has been busy sharing information in July. With the help of our friends at Attack Poverty, we’ve distributed more than 2,400 abuse prevention cards to families who are receiving food. We are grateful to Attack Poverty for their willingness to help us provide information to families on how to report suspected abuse and neglect. This is an important step in ensuring that all children receive the help they need.
In addition to distributing prevention cards, Outreach hosted 3 training sessions at the end of July to help teachers, counselors, and other education professionals to prepare to go back into the teaching environment. The sessions included information about how to notice and address children who have experienced trauma as a result of the pandemic or other family circumstances as well as ways to recognize abuse from a distance or in the classroom and how to respond to those situations. A quick and thoughtful response from a trusted adult could mean the difference between continued abuse or healing and justice. We are thankful for our education partners and their vigilance in keeping eyes on kids.
Finally, Outreach is busy preparing for back to school and planning ways to meet children virtually to teach safety and abuse prevention. They are working with educators, parents and students to create a common language to discuss boundaries, risks, technology and suspected abuse. If you are interested in joining us for a virtual safety and prevention presentation, please contact Lindsey Castellanos, Community Outreach Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
World Day Against Human Trafficking
We’re joining our partners from the District Attorney’s Office and Judge KP George’s Office in a virtual community art project to support victims of Human Trafficking. July 30 was World Day Against Human Trafficking and we’ve launched a community art project and hope you’ll join us. All you have to do is download, print and design a piece of art, post your statement and artwork, along with the hashtag #fbcwalkswithvictims on social media. The top entries will be displayed in Fort Bend County buildings. The deadline for participating is August 6th so get started on your piece today! Questions or for more information go https://www.facebook.com/fortbendcountyda or contact Claire Andresen at Claire.Andresen@fortbendcountytx.gov
Thank you to all FRIENDS members and especially to the FRIENDS Council for staying true to their mission and helping the youth we serve get ready for school with a fresh backpack and all new supplies. Whatever school looks like for these kids, ages Pre-K through College, they will be ready to tackle it. Pictured below L to R are Brigit and Lucky Engleman, Lynn Halford and Tarina Sheridan.
Amazon Smile REMINDER. . .
Child Advocates of Fort Bend is registered for AmazonSmile. This is a program through Amazon.com that will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Ft Bend County Child Advocates, Inc. To shop via AmazonSmile, go to http://smile.amazon.com/ch/76-0337426.
Please join us remotely for our Transforming Lives Summer Soiree on August 22, 2020 from 7pm-8pm.
After careful consideration surrounding COVID-19, we have made the decision to hold our Transforming Lives Summer Soiree as a virtual event without an in-person event at the building. This is disappointing because we were planning a wonderful evening, but we are working hard to create an amazing and fun alternative. The new features of the Virtual Soiree will be:
- Silent Auction, Live Auction, Restaurant Pull and Wine Pull will be available for online bidding throughout the weeks in August leading up to the actual “virtual” event on August 22. The postings will be staggered to create interest each week. When we post, we encourage you to share.
- The Virtual Soiree will be delivered via digital platform on Saturday evening, August 22 at 7:00 pm for an hour. Elements of the program will be pre-recorded including video and presentations. Our live programming will feature Johnny Bravo, our auctioneer, who will conduct the live auction in real time.
- Join us here https://CAFB2020.givesmart.com August 7th through August 22nd to see what’s new.
We still have sponsorships available and there are multiple ways you can financially support our efforts, including the opportunity to become a member of our Voices for Children Circle, so pass along to your friends. Please note, if you’re interested in one of our live auction packages, sponsorships or our Voices for Children sustainability program contact Lisa at LMoore@cafb.org.
Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are looking forward to sharing this new format with you as we focus on transforming the lives of thousands of children and families especially now when they need us the most!
FRIENDS of Child Advocates of Fort Bend participate in the Wine Pull every year with wine donations to sell at our wine pull. Please consider donating a bottle of wine valued at $30 or more for this event. The funds generated from the Wine Pull can provide a forensic interview for one child ($100) or provide the supplies for a Care Package for one College Student during mid-terms or final exams ($40). Contact Pat Somers at email@example.com to coordinate.
In addition, the Summer Soiree will have a Restaurant Pull. For $50 guests will be able to draw a mystery box for a gift card to a local restaurant valued from $25-$250. CAFB is requesting gift cards be purchased from local restaurants to support Fort Bend businesses and then donated to us to help earn needed funds for Child Advocates of Fort Bend. It’s a WIN-WIN for the businesses within Fort Bend County and for the youth we serve. Contact Tarina at firstname.lastname@example.org to participate.
Mark your calendar!
August 22, 2020 VIRTUAL Transforming Lives Summer Soiree
7pm until 8pm
August 24-26, 2020 CAC Volunteer Training
September date TBD CASA Volunteer Training
October 22, 2020 FRIENDS Annual Fall Membership Coffee
December 11-12, 2020 Christmas Home Tour