November was a month of celebration! Congratulations to the children who found their “forever homes” at National Adoption Day on November 16th. It was a great celebration at the Fort Bend County Justice Center with face painting, a petting zoo, food donated by H-E-B, and all things “Superhero”. Thank you to the CASA staff, volunteers, judges, CPS and County Attorneys for all the work you put it to make it a very special day for the children and families. Earlier in the month we welcomed our new class of CASA Advocates and CAC Volunteers who were sworn in and enjoyed a special Swearing-In Luncheon hosted by our wonderful Volunteer Council! On Thanksgiving Day, the 3rd annual Turkey Trot was held by “The Thankful Ones” – the Martin family who selected Child Advocates of Fort Bend as the beneficiary of this amazing fundraiser in Pecan Grove. This year, it was particularly special because it also was a celebration of the adoption of their beautiful daughter Everly just a week prior. We closed out the month with our Case Closing Dinner where we recognized all the CASA Advocates whose cases closed in the past few months.
Now it’s time for the Christmas Home Tour – thank you in advance to all the volunteers, staff and board who will make this year the very best home tour ever!
For the Children’s Sake,
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend
Child Advocates of Fort Bend’s age-specific programming for children and youth sets it apart from many other CASA programs across the country. Thanks to steady, financial support from several long-standing grant funders, CAFB is closer to closing its 2018 funding gap for these programs which help deliver advocacy and direct services to ensure each child’s overall needs and best interests are being met. The impact of this funding benefits babies born to drug-addicted mothers, young children and teenagers removed from homes in which parents physically abused them or neglected them, and those who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of someone they loved and trusted. We could not provide life-changing services without the support of so many generous donors and funders. As we reflect upon this season of giving and gratitude, please know we cherish each and every one of you!
Thank You, Golf for Greater Houston and Fluor Cares!
This year, CAFB was honored to be selected as a primary beneficiary of the Golf for Greater Houston tournament held on October 1. Event Chair April Nemec and Co-Chair Paul Miller led a volunteer committee of Fluor employees in the year-long effort to raise more than $410,000. CAFB received a $70,000 grant award for our N.E.S.T. and WINGS programs for school-aged and aging-out foster youth. Nine other local charities also received a share of the proceeds.
“Fluor is honored to help the WINGS and N.E.S.T. Programs for foster youth in Fort Bend County. We are thankful to our many partners from all over the region who gave their support for our most successful golf tournament to date,” said Barbara Jones, senior manager of community and public affairs at Fluor. “We are so pleased the event was a huge success.”
Special thanks to CAFB volunteers Jim Lockwood, Tom Duffy, Brad Somers and Roque Baecker who competed in the event and sponsored a golf team.
Thank You, HEB Tournament of Champions!
The H-E-B Tournament of Champions is one of the largest charitable events in the nation. In June, more than 1,600 H-E-B Partners, vendors and suppliers gather in San Antonio for the annual tournament which raised more than $9 million, to support nonprofit organizations focused on the needs of children and families throughout Texas. Child Advocates of Fort Bend has been a proud recipient of this grant program since 2014 and has received $33,000 in support for our direct service programs for abused and neglected children. This year, we were especially grateful to receive $10,000 in support for our Children’s Advocacy Center as well as our N.E.S.T. and WINGS programs. Special thanks to Crystal Moya, our tireless advocate from H-E-B!
Thank You, Texas Bar Foundation!
Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $19 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably-funded bar foundation. This year, the Texas Bar Foundation awarded CAFB with a $5,000 grant for our Infant and Toddler program. The Infant and Toddler program is designed to strengthen court and family advocacy, prevent children from falling through the cracks of the system, advocate for their best interests in court and reduce their chances of returning to foster care. This grant will help CAFB to continue to serve 100% of children 5 and under, the largest age-cohort that we serve.
Every month, the CASA team will share one of our many standards that we must abide by as set forth by TX CASA and National CASA. We want to keep you informed and provide you with any updates. This month, we are sharing one of the standards about advocates roles and responsibilities. If you ever have any questions regarding standards, please feel free to contact your Volunteer Supervisor or CASA Program Director. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to the children you serve.
Standard 7. E. Volunteer Roles and Responsibilities
The CASA/GAL program’s volunteer policies and procedures include but are not limited to the following:
a. The CASA volunteer reports any incident of child abuse or neglect, or any situation in which the CASA volunteer has reason to believe that a child is in imminent danger to the appropriate authorities and the CASA supervisor, as mandated in the Texas Family Code.
Farewell Judge Pope!
Judge Ronald Pope will be retiring at the end of the year. His last court docket is scheduled for December 20, 2018. Judge Pope has served the children and families of Fort Bend County as a District Court Judge for sixteen years. Judge Pope has been a change agent for the child welfare community. In 2005, Judge Pope was an innovative leader in bringing the Zero to Three Court Team for Maltreated Children to Fort Bend County. Judge Pope was named the Lonestar Proud for Kids Judge of the Year by TX CASA in 2006. Judge Pope was been a huge supporter of the Fort Bend CASA program frequently sharing the importance of CASA with other judges around the state. Judge Pope will be sincerely missed. We wish him well in his new life of retirement.
Judge Jamie Rawlinson of the Coastal Bend Children’s Court has joined Fort Bend County. Judge Rawlinson was appointed to replace Judge Eric Andell. Judge Rawlinson serves as the cluster court judge for Fort Bend, Galveston, and Wharton counties. She presided over her first docket in Fort Bend on November 7, 2018. Judge Rawlinson comes to us with great experience in the child welfare legal system as she was formerly an Assistant County Attorney representing CPS in Harris County. We are excited to work with her!!!
Child Advocates of Fort Bend Welcomes New Volunteers!
Child Advocates of Fort Bend welcomed 20 new volunteers who will serve as CASA/CAC volunteers. The volunteers were sworn-in by the Honorable Ronald Pope of the 328th District Court in Fort Bend County in November. Congratulations to our new graduates!
The Power of Group Therapy
The Children’s Advocacy Center has a history of offering several therapy groups to our children and parents. Group therapy gives participants an opportunity to meet others who have similar experiences, which helps them feel less alone in their pain. Groups often have members at different levels in their treatment progress, which gives members further along in their healing an opportunity to help and inspire newer members just starting their healing journey. Groups often receive support from each other and education about symptoms, the dynamics of abuse, and coping skills, normalizing the process for everyone.
Groups often include food as a way for group members to sit together for a meal or snack, work through emotions and support each other by nurturing themselves and each other. In the caregivers group, parents often bring food for the rest of the group to share.
Pepperoni’s in Rosenberg has also generously donated pizzas for several years to our caregivers group and our teen groups. Teens look forward to eating in group as their sessions are usually right after school and they’re hungry! It also helps break the ice between members as they share and pass pizza around. We are so grateful to Pepperoni’s for helping us nurture our group members physically as they do the hard work of healing.
Important Changes in 2018 to Fingerprint Based Check Requirements
The anticipated National Rap Back fingerprint feature, allowing CASA programs to be notified of any new criminal activity of individuals they are subscribed to through their FACT Clearinghouse account, will be implemented this year – with this good news, however, there is an unfortunate downside in that individuals fingerprinted before June 1, 2015, will not be automatically uploaded into the Rap Back system.
This means that any Volunteers, Staff or Board Members fingerprinted before June 1, 2015 or were pulled using their Texas Education Agency code, will need to be re-fingerprinted in order to be entered into the Rap Back system and to remain in compliance with Texas CASA standards and the state.
Since June 2018, we have contacted all Volunteers who were fingerprinted before June 1, 2015 or had their fingerprint records pulled as Texas Educators. If you receive an email from us about getting the fingerprint checks completed, please fill out the requested forms to complete the process. We have to ensure that ALL Volunteers who need to be re-fingerprinted are completed as soon as possible. We will cover the cost of the fingerprint checks and set up the appointment for you. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Training and Webinars:
Just a reminder to all Volunteers – all volunteers are required to have 12 hours of Continuing Education annually. There is still time to send us an update on your hours. You can complete hours by going to the Texas CASA online Learning Center at texascasa.org, completing webinars and any trainings that are relevant to your Volunteer experience. Classroom trainings, books and other media opportunities are also acceptable. You can enter your Continuing Education hours in the Optima Database. Please contact Casey Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions.
END of Year Audits for CASA Volunteer Information
As we come to the end of the year, we are in the process of auditing all of our Volunteer files and may be requesting updated information from you. This information will include the following updated information requests:
- Updated copy of Current Driver’s License (if expired)
- Updated Fingerprint Based Checks (if fingerprinted before June 2015 or if your fingerprint check was pulled via the Texas Education Agency)
- Updated References (if we do not currently have at least 3 references in your Volunteer file)
- Updated insurance information (if you are currently approved to transport a CASA child)
We appreciate your help in getting this information to us and keeping us up-to-date! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Casey at email@example.com.
OPTIMA Database Use and Training
All active CASA Volunteers have been given access to use the Optima Database. Optima is our web-based program that allows Volunteers to manage their caseload, document volunteer hours and update their contact information and preferences. Please make sure that you are using Optima to enter your Volunteer Hours and contacts on your cases. If you have questions about how to enter information into Optima, please contact your Volunteer Supervisor or Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to help you!
If you are currently an active Volunteer and would like to schedule a one-on-one Optima training overview, please contact Casey at email@example.com. Also, if you have had any issues logging on or need to request an electronic copy of the Optima User Guide, please contact Casey as well.
Looking for ways to help out?
Tis the Season of Giving! Here are a few ways you can help us…
- The N.E.S.T. Program is looking for volunteers to help with this winter’s Incentive Party on Friday December 14th, 2018. This two hour party is to celebrate a Job Well Done in school this semester. Please contact April Shaver at Ashaver@cafb.org or 281.344.5210 to find out more details of how you can get involved!
- The Children’s Advocacy Center is seeking volunteers to fill vacancies each week when regular shift volunteers are out. If you are interested volunteering for a temporary vacancy shift and have been through the volunteer training, contact Melissa Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The CAC is also in need of more blankets. Blankets are given to each child who receives a forensic interview. Due to the high volume of interviews this year, the blankets are going fast!
- The CAC could also use your help celebrating therapy graduations! Kids who suffer trauma work hard in therapy to share and process their experiences. They often miss school and other activities so they can spend time each week healing. The Children’s Advocacy Center recognizes the child’s hard work when they complete treatment by gifting them a copy of Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go!. We are running low on copies in English. Please consider donating copies of each for the CAC’s children.
We appreciate your support!
It’s Almost Christmas Home Tour Time!
The homes this year will be in Historic Richmond, Lakes of Williams Ranch, Alkire Lake, Sienna Plantation and Sienna Point.
Friday, December 7th from 10am-4pm & 6pm-9pm and Saturday, December 8th from 10am-4pm. The two-day Home Tour hosts visitors from all of Fort Bend County and surrounding areas. Over 3,000 guests will tour the homes, including the 1,000 volunteers that take their time to participate.
This is a spirited community event, but most importantly it is a fundraiser.
Home Tour tickets are on sale at www.cafb.org and at the Randalls stores in Pecan Grove and Williams Trace/Hwy 6.
Check out our 4th annual Wreath Raffle on display in the office, at the Sienna HomeFinder Center, Feather & Nest, Twenty-Two Interiors, Hello Beautiful Blow Dry Bar, AT&T First Colony Mall, the Farmhouse at Harvest Green and at the homes on the Home Tour or on www.cafb.org. Buy a ticket to one of several gorgeous wreaths and CHOOSE the one you hope to win. One ticket = $10, 3 tickets + $25 and 5 tickets = $40.
For more information, please contact Lisa at LMoore@cafb.org
Are you interested in joining our Walk of Heroes by purchasing a brick for our walkway?
For $100 a 4” x 8” brick with whatever you designate it to say will be placed in the walkway to our building. Bricks may contain up to 3 lines of copy, 20 characters per line.
For more information, please contact Lisa at LMoore@cafb.org
Sugar Land Holiday Lights
At Constellation Field – Home of the Skeeters
Nov 23 – Jan 1
Mention CASA or CAFB
Tickets only $10
Normally $14 the $4 you save will go to CAFB
Benefiting Child Advocates of Fort Bend
Mark your calendar!
December 7 + 8, 2018 Christmas Home Tour
December 24-25, 2018 CAFB Offices Closed
December 31, 2018 CAFB Offices Closed
January 1, 2019 CAFB Offices Closed
January 29, 2019 CAC TX Day at the Capitol
details coming soon. . .
February 4-5, 2019 CASA Day at the Capitol
details coming soon. . .