CAFB August News - Child Advocates of Fort Bend
CAFB August News

Happy August!

Summer of 2021 has been a busy one at Child Advocates of Fort Bend.  We are so delighted to be “in person” with so many of our activities and events.  It’s great to return to in-person volunteer trainings, an in-person Graduation Celebration, in-person N.E.S.T. and WINGS programming, in-person Sip and Stroll tours of our new campus and in-person Cocktails and Conversation donor gatherings.  The building is buzzing with activity while we continue to take safety precautions to keep clients, volunteers, partners and visitors safe.   Talking about our building, you may notice some trucks and construction out in our parking lot.  We have launched our Phase II Capital Project which will provide us with outdoor programming space with a covered pavilion and an additional storage building to house our growing inventory of children’s backpacks, toys, blankets, stuffed animals, books and all the many items that no longer fit in our inside Treasure Room.  It will also give us space for all our Christmas Home Tour and Gala signs and decorations and interior space for assembly, as well as collection and distribution of items.  Building completion is scheduled for mid-October, just in time for the annual Friends Fall Tea on October 15 so come on out and take a look.  The Pavilion roof will be added in December when materials become available   For the next two months, parking is very tight since the construction has taken up over half of our lot, so please park in the second lot or Terry High School (through Aug 20).  We’ll keep you posted.  We will move on to Phase III next which will be the construction of a large new parking lot on the adjacent lot that we purchased to the east of our campus.  That project will be constructed in late Fall/Winter 2022.  Our growth continues and we are so excited to be able to add these additional features, event space and parking to accommodate all our children and families, volunteers, partners and visitors.  Thanks for your patience during this time and follow us on Facebook or stop by to see our growth!

Thank you for all you do for the children.  With school restarting this month, your advocacy and support is so important to make this transition smooth and get our children and youth off to a great start.

For the Children’s Sake,

Ruthanne Mefford
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend

Please Consider Becoming a VOICES FOR CHILDREN Transforming Lives Breakfast Sponsor

Voices For Children Breakfast Sponsorships offer an opportunity for recognition the morning of the breakfast to over 300 guests. Sponsorships offer described recognition along with pre/post breakfast recognition on our website, social media platforms and in media press releases.  Also included with a Sponsorship are 4 invitations to the post breakfast Voices For Children Circle Celebration.

Transforming Lives Video  $8000
CAFB mission focused video presented at event will include your company logo or individual name displayed at end of video.

Mission Banner  $2500
2-4×6 mission focused banners displayed on stage with company logo or individual name during the event.

Program  $2500
Company logo or individual name on over 300 printed event programs.

Registration  $1500
Company logo or individual name displayed at event registration tables.

Coffee Bar  $1500
Company logo or individual name displayed at coffee stations in ballroom and at registration area. ­

To secure your Sponsorship or for more information
contact Dana Mersiovsky at or 281.344.7253.



Thank you Torchy’s!

Taco ‘bout a great partner! When Torchy’s Tacos opened their new Richmond location, they reached out to us to partner with them. Not only were we invited to help their new team members practice their taco making skills by coming in for a meal prior to their grand opening but proceeds from the soft opening events were donated to CAFB! We love their tacos and are thankful for their partnership. Welcome to Richmond, Torchy’s! We are so happy to have you nearby. Shown (L to R) are Community Outreach Coordinator Lindsey Castellanos, Torchy’s Managing Partner Mark Shaw and Events Specialist Tarina Sheridan.



Thank you for Your Donations!

Fort Bend is a very generous community, and we are so grateful to be the recipient of many donations this month from blankets to cosmetics! Special thanks to Sandlin Stavinoha (and all her friends and neighbors), Brittany and Hudson Finley and Cheryl Richardson and her family for their generous blanket donations. Sandlin moved to Fort Bend from the Dallas area in May and immediately reached out to us to get involved. She then leveraged her social media to help spread the word about our need for blankets and her friends and neighbors donated money for her to purchase blankets. Brittany and Hudson Finley dropped off blankets when they learned about the need and Cheryl Richardson and her family donated character blankets – Harry Potter, Sonic the Hedgehog, Baby Yoda, etc. We really appreciate all your generosity and thank you on behalf of the children we serve.

Mary Kay representative Graciela Jimenez also stopped by in July with 32 gift bags of sample products and $40 Mary Kay gift certificates for our staff. Thank YOU for your donations and for thinking of us!

Program Updates

Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)

Our Children’s Advocacy Center remains busy and focused on making sure that children and families get the help and services that they need to heal. At times this month, our staff has worked around the clock to get everything done. Teamwork among our staff and our partners is critical to the work that we do. Recognizing that we could not do the work that we do without our partners, this month our CAC team would like to turn the spotlight toward the prosecutors in the District Attorney’s Office for finding justice for a young victim so that she can heal and move on with her life.

They recently closed a case that began seven years ago when a 13-year-old girl disclosed long term sexual abuse by her father. The father was immediately arrested and charged. While in therapy at the CAC, the teen shared with her therapist the role that her mother had played in her father’s ongoing abuse. Ultimately, Detective Kelly Gless from the Sugar Land Police Department filed charges against the mother and the District Attorney’s Office charged the mother for her role in the young woman’s abuse. The team of prosecutors including Suzy Morton, Lisa Gregg and Sherry Robinson were committed to finding justice for this young victim,. They always balanced justice with what was in her best interest. They built a trusting relationship with this teen who had few trusting relationships in her life. She understood that they cared about justice, but she also knew that they truly cared about her and her well-being. Thanks to the dedication of these prosecutors, this young woman received justice for the trauma inflicted on her for most of her childhood. As a result, she can move forward in her life and continue her journey toward healing. We are so thankful to work with such a dedicated and caring team of partners who truly care about the children we serve.


Court Appointed Special Advocates Program (CASA) 

Youth were certified in CPR during the Summer WINGS Program

It is summer which means WINGS and NEST summer programs for the youth we serve. This year, our partnership with Family Life and Community Resource Center brought new curriculum and fresh material created by child development experts who work with children in foster care. This is important because many of our youth participate year after year and we want to offer new content and scaffold their learning. CASA staff provided Program Innovation, Curriculum Development and Workshop Oversight to ensure positive and appropriate curriculum and delivery. This year, the focus was on college and career preparation, goal planning, creative art, health and wellness – control of microorganism and keeping yourself safe, financial literacy, Spanish language and culture, healthy cooking, entrepreneurship and starting a business, Social Justice, service learning and college campus visits. WINGS youth were even certified in CPR this summer.

Children in the NEST program got ready to return to the classroom by focusing on S.T.E.A.M. projects including making a solar oven, animal science, a boat floating challenge, science mystery room, germ control and a plastic bottle rocket experiment. The week’s activities also included career preparation and a visit to the Fort Bend Discovery Center. Empowered with new knowledge the youth are armed and ready to return to the classroom this fall!

Community Engagement Team Announces New Offerings!

The Community Engagement team is excited to announce new trainings offered to the community for Child Abuse Prevention. We want to be a source of expert content for adults and children in the fight against child abuse. Child abuse is 100% preventable and yet we see more and more children and youth in our offices each day that need intervention in their lives. These trainings use language and information to foster open communication between children and the adults in their lives to keep children safe.

Stewards of Children® is an evidence-informed, award-winning two-hour training that teaches adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. Through interviews with child sexual abuse survivors, experts, and treatment providers, Stewards of Children® teaches adults practical actions they can take to reduce instances of child sexual abuse in their organizations, families, and communities. We will also offer this training to the public with dates throughout the year. Those dates will be announced as locations are secured.

MBF Child Safety Matters® is a comprehensive, evidence-based curriculum for elementary school students in grades K-5. The program educates and empowers children and all relevant adults with information and strategies to prevent, recognize, and respond appropriately to bullying, cyberbullying, all types of abuse, and digital abuse dangers. We are proud to utilize staff and volunteers in this program so we can reach more students in the 2021-2022 school year.

We would be happy to schedule a training for your group. Please contact Lindsey Castellanos for more information,



Infant & Toddler Monthly Open-Door Topic Talk

The Infant and Toddler Team is hosting monthly Open-Door meetings to give advocates assigned to infant and toddler cases an opportunity to drop in, ask questions, staff cases, or just say “Hi” to fellow advocates. The August Topic Talk Co-Parenting: What is it and how will it work? is scheduled for August 2 from noon to 1:00.

For details or to participate, contact Renee Lukefahr at or Carol Thesing at



Thank You!

With several children from CPS being housed in our office throughout the day while they wait for their next placement (a crisis that is occurring throughout the state), we reached out to area congregations for help. Special thanks to First Colony Church of Christ, Fort Bend Family Promise and Zoroastrian Association of Houston for answering our call and agreeing to help by providing meals for them. Having meals brought to the office not only filled the need for normalcy for the children by getting a home cooked meal, but it also helped relieve CPS staff who are ensuring that all the needs of the children are being met. Each day, these generous community members brought in breakfast, lunch and dinner. We are so thankful to these partners and to those who have signed up to help in August. We still have some meal slots that need to be filled in August and September. If your congregation or group would like to help support this cause, please contact Lindsey Castellanos at




FRIENDS Tea & Crumpets

FRIENDS of Child Advocates of Fort Bend invites you to put on your hat & gloves and join them for their annual membership event – Tea & Crumpets on Friday, October 15 at the CAFB office. For more information or to RSVP contact Kristin Stiles-Janossy at

Bill signing of HB490 with Senator Joan Huffman.
HB490 requires human trafficking education in hotels and motels across Texas annually.


Legislative UPDATE

Our Legislative Advocacy Team is dedicated to keeping our legislators informed, advocating for our kids and bringing awareness to our community. Despite the pandemic and winter storm, the 87th Legislative Session was a busy one. Here is a rundown on what happened.

  • Funding The Texas CASA budget increased from $1 million to $15.95 million and maintained Collaborative Family Engagement funding. CACTX increased funding by $21.9 million to fund mental health and child sex trafficking services


  • Legislative successes for kids in foster care and kids healing from sexual abuse were plentiful this legislative session.  HB2058 will help ensure all kids in foster care have access to normal, childhood activities.  SB2058 allows funds in the State Identification Fee Exemption Account to cover the costs associated with the requirements to obtain a driver’s license in Texas for youth in foster care including driver’s education classes.  SB1059 maintains Medicaid health coverage until the age 26 with automatic renewal of their coverage.  SB2049 clarifies the role of the guardian ad litem in dual status cases (cases with kids in the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system).  Building on SB2049, HB1315 requires the continuation of appointment for guardians ad litem in a dual role for as long as the child remains in the conservatorship of DFPS.  HB2926 allows a parent whose rights were involuntary terminated to be be reinstated.  Through these legislative successes kids in foster care will have more opportunities for normalcy and better opportunities for health care.


  • There were some missed opportunities. HB1413/SB663 would have provided a peer support or mentor program for kids in care with mental health issues and substance abuse issues. HB2821/SB2085 aimed to limit law enforcement involvement with children who reside in residential treatment centers.  Advocates hope these bills will pass in 2023.


  • Several sex trafficking bills passed this session. The SMART Act increased the age from 18 to 21 to work in sexually oriented businesses.  Hotels and motels are required to train their employees annually about human trafficking. The No Trafficking Zone Act became law making it a first-degree felony for trafficking 1000 feet on or near school grounds, functions, or sponsored events.  Pseudonyms for sex trafficking victims will be used in court proceedings.  First time buyers of sex will face a state jail felony.


  • There is one more very important special session:   The Legislature is meeting in August for a 30-day period to work on redrawing lines here in Texas.  This is a job that is done every 10 years.


Have questions about the legislative session or any of these bills?

Want to join the Legislative Advocacy Team?

Contact Rhonda Kuykendall, Chairwoman of the Committee


Join us. . . for a Sip + a Stroll

Bring a friend and join us for light bites, a sip of wine and a tour through our Davis George Campus on August 24 from 5:30pm – 6:30pm. Meet our staff, hear the stories of the children we serve and learn more about the work that we do.

If you would like to attend, please RSVP to Dana Mersiovsky at or 281-344-7253.



30th Christmas Home Tour:  The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

It may be hot and steamy outside, but the holidays are just around the corner and we’ve got some great things in store for our 30th Annual Christmas Home Tour, which is set for December 10th and 11th.

Presenting Sponsor – Fred and Mabel Parks Foundation

Thank you to the Fred and Mabel Parks Foundation for again being this year’s Presenting Sponsor.  We have already confirmed several houses and are busy planning the most memorable home tour yet.

The two-day Home Tour hosts visitors from Fort Bend County and across the state. Over 3,000 guests will tour the beautifully decorated homes, including more than 1,000 volunteers who donate their time to ensure a successful event.

Would you like to help?

Contact Tarina Sheridan at to discuss your interests. A variety of opportunities are available from being a member of one of the Home Teams, helping with a 2-hour host shift in one of the homes, baking cookies, delivering posters, signs and flyers to area businesses, or even showcasing your musical talents.

 Are you interested in sponsoring, showcasing your home or donating a wreath for our 11th annual wreath raffle? Let’s talk!




Fluor Cares and Golf for Greater Houston

Golf for Greater Houston is excited to announce its return for 2021 and CAFB is a beneficiary for this 12th annual charity event! Mark your calendars for Monday, October 4th at Black Hawk Country Club in Richmond, TX and let us know if you are interested in playing on a team. Contact Lisa Moore at to learn more.

Mark your calendars!

August 2, 2021 Infant & Toddler Open Door
Noon – 1pm
Via Zoom

To participate or for details contact Carol Thesing at


August 24, 2021 Summer Sip & Stroll
5:30 – 6:30
CAFB Office

To RSVP or for more information contact Dana Mersiovsky at or 281-344-7253.


October 15, 2021 FRIENDS Tea & Crumpets
1pm – 3pm
CAFB Office

Contact Kristin Stiles-Janossy at to RSVP or for more information.


December 10 + 11 Christmas Home Tour
Friday 10am – 4pm + 6pm – 9pm
Saturday 10am – 4pm

To sponsor, volunteer or for more information contact Tarina Sheridan at



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