Our offices are closed but all services continue to be provided by staff who are working remotely . We are continually updating the resources on this page. Please check back for new information and resources as they become available.
Our priority is the safety and health of our clients, families, staff, volunteers and partners. With the escalating situation surrounding COVID-19, we are implementing protocols and policies at Child Advocates of Fort Bend (see below). Beginning Tuesday, March 17 and effective through June 1, our building will officially be closed and staff will work remotely. We will be available for emergency interviews with a skeleton crew and safeguards for the children and families. We will continue to assess the situation and determine if these protocols and policies should be adjusted and/or extended. We all will be reachable by phone or email during regular business hours.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Stay healthy and safe.
Child Advocates of Fort Bend Protocols and Practices to Manage Coronavirus (COVID 19) Transmission
All staff will work remotely at home through June 1. There are some exceptions for certain staff members allowed in the building for specific purposes which is outlined below. When working remotely, we ask staff to lessen their exposure to the transmission of the virus by not working in public places but rather work from home. We also ask staff to follow guidelines issued by the CDC and to practice social distancing by limiting/eliminating frequenting public places (restaurants, events, stores, social gatherings, etc.) and to immediately avoid travel outside of the area. We will be in communication with staff via phone, Zoom, Teams, social media and other digital formats.
Please note the following:
Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)
The CAC will be officially closed until April 13. Volunteer shifts will be suspended.
Forensic Interviews: All forensic interviews currently scheduled will be cancelled unless emergency/P1. Only emergency/P1 interviews will be conducted over the next two weeks by on-call staff who will come into the building. Work with Program Director on scheduling the on-call rotation. All CAC staff will participate in the on-call rotations for emergencies.
Therapy: Therapists will contact teenage clients to see if they are comfortable with phone, Facetime or Skype sessions. All other therapy session will be cancelled. Therapists may also have phone consultations with parents if appropriate during the scheduled time.
Family Meetings with Prosecutors: Staff have been instructed not participate in these meetings for the next two weeks.
Case Review Team (CRT) Meetings: Both Fort Bend and Austin Waller County CRTs are cancelled for the balance of March.
State Intakes: These will be conducted from home. Referrals to the CAC will be either be scheduled out two weeks if appropriate or if emergency, then follow above emergency protocols.
Child Visits: No in-person visits are to be conducted. Advocates are asked to make contact with every child every 30 days by phone, Facetime or Skype. There should be no in-person contact with children.
CFE: Team meetings should be conducted by phone, Zoom, Facetime or Skype. No in-person CFE family meetings.
Courtesy CASA: Suspend all courtesy CASA visits to children.
Mediations: We have been informed that these are continuing to be scheduled at the Dispute Resolution Center or CPS Office. Staff who are required to attend, have been instructed to practice social distancing, hand washing, and no handshaking or personal contact.
Permanency Conferences: None are scheduled through the end of March.
Circle of Support Meetings: We have been informed that these are continuing to be scheduled. Follow practices as detailed above for Mediations.
Infant and Toddler Court: We have been informed that these are continuing to be scheduled. Follow practices as detailed above.
Cluster Court: Statutory hearings, only, have been reset to the District Court for Judges Armatys, Perwin and Mullinex. Please follow best practices as detailed above.
Training and Outreach
Speakers Bureau Trainings scheduled for 3/18, 3/25, and 4/3 will be conducted at a rescheduled date or be conducted via Zoom.
TBRI Training scheduled for 3/16 was cancelled.
CAC Volunteer Training scheduled for 3/30 – 4/1 will be rescheduled or be conducted via Zoom.
CAC Volunteer Recruitment: Initial interviews will be conducted by phone. Second interviews will be conducted by Zoom with limited staff participating.
Continuing Education: All CE trainings will be conducted on mobile phones via the Engage By Cell app which will be rolled out to volunteers this week.
Volunteer Appreciation: Social originally scheduled for 4/14 will be cancelled.
School Presentations: All presentations currently scheduled will be cancelled through the end of March, and likely for the balance of the school year. Staff will update materials to prepare for next school year.
Community Presentations: Light of Hope/Pinwheel has been cancelled. Checking with FB Chamber Leadership on March 25 and April 1 presentation at Meals on Wheels.
Prevention: Tips and coping strategies for stress, etc. will be developed and regularly posted on social media.
Voices For Children Tours: All VFC tours currently scheduled will be cancelled.
Voices For Children Team Meetings will be conducted by phone or Zoom.
Voices For Children Breakfast: Rescheduled date pending.
Gala: Rescheduled to September 11 at the Sugar Land Marriott.
Grants: All Foundations will be notified of our office closure. Grant staff will continue to meet grant submittal and report deadlines.
Communications: Ongoing social media, newsletters and website updates will increase and be updated regularly as new information becomes available.
Donors: All donor visits will take place via phone or Zoom. No in person meetings are recommended.
Accounting and Administration
Select accounting and admin staff will enter the building at least weekly to pick up mail, record checks and deposit to bank account.
Check or letter signing will be handled either at the building or remotely with the CEO and Board President.
Other job functions will be handled remotely.
We will work with our partners in the DAs, CAs, CPS and FBCSO to manage the remaining work to be completed prior to their move in.
UPDATES AND TIPS
STRATEGIES AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FAMILIES AND CAREGIVERS
How do I talk to my children and teens about coronavirus?
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has published a fact sheet that provides parents, caregivers, and teachers with strategies for helping children manage their stress during an infectious disease outbreak. It describes potential reactions among youth and the support adults can provide to help them. You can download the fact sheet here.
Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-Being from Child Trends
Texas Health and Human Services COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line
Texas Health and Human Services has launched a 24/7 statewide mental health support line to help Texans experiencing anxiety, stress or emotional challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This new resource offers COVID-19-related mental health support for all Texans. People can call the Statewide COVID-19 Mental Health Support Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week toll-free at 833-986-1919. The support line is operated by the Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD and offers trauma-informed support and psychological first aid to those experiencing stress and anxiety related to COVID-19. Counseling services are confidential and free of charge to people who call the hotline.
Fort Bend Community Resources for families
Sugar Creek Hope Initiative Food Drive
April 11 (9am – noon) https://sugarcreek.net/event/hope-initiative-april-11/
April 15 (10am – noon) https://sugarcreek.net/event/hope-initiative-april-15/
April 18 (9am – noon) https://sugarcreek.net/event/hope-initiative-april-18/
April 22 (10am – noon) https://sugarcreek.net/event/hope-initiative-april-22/
April 25 (9am – noon) https://sugarcreek.net/event/hope-initiative-april-25/
Attack Poverty Food Distribution Centers https://attackpoverty.org/covid-19/#distribution-centers
Houston Food Bank food Resources https://www.houstonfoodbank.org/find-help/agency-locator/
Government Benefits and Resources
Information on unemployment, healthcare and business resources
Free resources from Calm, the popular meditation app
Tips for the Public on Managing Your Stress from the Texas Department of Health and Human Services
The Self Care Six, practicing emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, practical and social self-care
Self Care Wheel suggestions for ways to take care of yourself
Just for kids: A comic exploring the Coronavirus
Keeping children and teens safe online
NetSmartz is an interactive educational program from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC). They offer age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer on- and offline. The program is designed for children ages 5-17, parents and guardians, educators, and law enforcement. With resources such as videos, games, downloadable activities, and presentations, NetSmartz entertains while it educates.