CAFB February News


Child Advocates of Fort Bend Family,

It’s hard to believe that we are already in February 2021.  I hope that this finds you and your families safe and healthy.  We are off to a great year and are excited to celebrate our 30th Anniversary of Child Advocates of Fort Bend!  It was three decades ago that Judge Stansbury had the vision of establishing a CASA Program in Fort Bend County to ensure that children in the foster care system in our community would have the support of a court-appointed advocate and would not fall through the cracks in the legal and child welfare systems. He convened a handful of volunteers including Pat Somers who was in our first Volunteer Training Class and continues to serve on our Board of Directors, Susie Kern who served as our first volunteer Executive Director and whose husband Judge Kern was a strong advocate for such a program to be established, and Linda Schultz who became our first full-time Executive Director, to name just a few.  They likely never imagined what their visionary spark would ignite.  Thirty years later, we have served nearly 19,000 children over these years, built a comprehensive continuum-of-care agency with two accredited programs:  CASA and Children’s Advocacy Center, hired a staff of 50 professionals supported by over 800 volunteers, and have a beautiful, newly remodeled and expanded 27,000 square foot building on the Davis George Campus in Rosenberg.  Just this past year in 2020, we served 3,544 children and families which was a 22% increase over the prior year, despite the pandemic.  More children were victims of sexual abuse than in any previous year and we had many more severe cases due to fewer early interventions because children were not in school.  I want to thank our dedicated volunteers who have been with us for one year, five years, ten years or 30 years!  Without you, Child Advocates of Fort Bend would never have been able to provide the lifesaving, transformational services that have helped thousands of children and impacted their lives and the lives of generations to come.

Please join us me in celebrating this important milestone of 30 years serving Fort Bend County.   Join us at our Volunteer Banquet in April, our 30th Birthday Celebration Gala in May, our Case Closings throughout the year, Voices For Children Breakfast in September, and our 30th Home Tour in December.  We are deeply grateful to all of you who are part of the Child Advocates of Fort Bend family.

For the Children’s Sake,

Ruthanne Mefford
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend


 

Take a Tour of Child Advocates of Fort Bend

In this unprecedented time, children need us more than ever. We know that in times of stress and crisis, the incidence of abuse increases. Because they need us…we need YOU.

Interested in learning more about Child Advocates of Fort Bend?  You are invited to join us on a VOICES FOR CHILDREN “Behind the Scenes” tour of our new and expanded campus. Tours are held via Zoom, so you can sit on the couch, on your patio or porch or in your most comfortable spot (in your most comfortable clothes!) and take a walk through our agency, hear stories and statistics, and most importantly gain awareness about the work we do.  Tours are held twice a month – the first Tuesday at 10am and the third Thursday at 4pm and are open to any and all who are interested.

Contact Dana Mersiovsky at dmersiovsky@cafb.org or 281.344.7253 to schedule and for the Zoom link.

 

 

Remembering by Giving Back

Reginia and Joe Lee lost their daughter Enisha and grandson Cannon in a tragic accident just a year ago. On the first anniversary of their passing, the Lees held a memorial and remembrance of Enisha and Cannon. Because their daughter and grandson loved working and helping others in the community, they asked friends and family to donate toys in their honor. Reginia and Joe dropped by recently to give those toys to CAFB. We are so thankful for their generosity and for carrying on their daughter and grandson’s legacy of helping others through this generous donation!

 

Thank you KnILE Prep Academy!

Special thanks to CAFB volunteer and KnILE Prep Academy teacher Monica Maza and the students at KnILE Prep Academy. These generous youth donated stuffed animals for the children we serve. Teacher, Monica Maza, delivered them to our Advocacy Center. We really appreciate your support!


Program Updates

Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)

The Children’s Advocacy Center would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our frontline partners who worked so hard in 2020 to ensure that abused children were not another casualty of the pandemic. Children’s Protective Services caseworkers, child abuse detectives, the District Attorney’s Office and the CAC staff and volunteers have continued to serve children without interruption. Unfortunately, child abuse did not take a break and, in fact, so many more children were left vulnerable due to the isolation and lack of safe people to tell. Everyone was able to balance health safety concerns with the concerns for the safety of the children who need them. Thank you also to all our generous donors who kept us supplied with masks, sanitizer and other essential safety items. We appreciate everyone’s commitment to the children we serve.

If you haven’t read it yet, Therapist Meghan Zeien offers tips and strategies for caring for your mental health in her January Therapist’s Corner blog post. Read her post here.

 

Court Appointed Special Advocates Program (CASA) and Community Engagement

Our CASA and Community Engagement teams have been very busy this month. Volunteer Advocates continue to testify in court via Zoom and are doing an outstanding job. CASA and NEST staff have been planning a Spring Break event for the kids. Although we are still unable to meet in large groups due to COVID, they are making sure that the kids we serve still have opportunities to learn life skills and to give back to the community. Stay tuned to hear about our new “Giveback Boxes” and the projects which are set to take place in March.

Our Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) Team is leading the way for the state. Krystal Vann and Jackie Townsend have been asked to introduce trauma-informed language and practices into the CFE process as well as participate in an early family engagement process. They have a variety of tools and resources to help engage family and youth in building support and connections (see photo) and we have lots of them available in our office for our volunteers. Learn more about CFE at https://texascasa.org/program-portal/collaborative-family-engagement/ or by contacting Jackie Townsend at JTownsend@cafb.org.

Our talented and industrious Community Engagement team did a presentation to Ridgemont Early Childhood Center in January are they are busy working on some really exciting new things for 2021! In the meantime, please make sure to check out upcoming Continuing Education opportunities on the CE training page at https://www.cafb.org/volunteer/continuing-education-for-currentvolunteers/. We’ll post new opportunities here every few weeks. All current volunteers are required to complete 12 hours of continuing education each year.

Make sure to mark your calendar for our Virtual Volunteer Banquet on April 22.  It will be a special celebration for the many volunteers who committed to our mission over the past year.  We will also award service pins those who have volunteered with us for many years.

 

 

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.

Our Topic Talk for February is Optima-the Contact Form.  Suggestions for future Topic Talks are welcomed. The meeting is scheduled for February 8, 2021 from noon to 1:00.

For details or to participate, contact Renee Lukefahr at RLukefahr@cafb.org or Carol Thesing at CThesing@cafb.org.

 

 

LAT Champions NEEDED!

Call to Action!

This legislative session is heating up with important legislation related to our state’s most vulnerable youth.  The Legislative Advocacy Team (LAT) needs your help in letting our representatives know which bills CASA has identified as being the most impactful for children in foster care.

By becoming a LAT Champion, you will receive notifications when bills are in critical stages with a request for you to help.  The LAT will send you a Bill Alert with a sample letter you can copy and forward to your Representative or Senator within 24 hours.  You may research the issue and write your own email also. Receiving letters from constituents lets our elected officials know which issues are important to us and which bills, out of many, will best serve our youth.  The task is not cumbersome.  This past legislative session there were 14 Bill Alerts.  To become a LAT Champion of Fort Bend, contact Rhonda Kuykendall, chairwoman of Child Advocates of Fort Bend LAT.

Contact Rhonda Kuykendall at rhondakuy@comcast.net

Like LAT Champions of Fort Bend on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/latchampions

Find out who is your Representative and Senator:  https://wrm.capitol.texas.gov/home

 

 

 

30th Birthday Gala Celebration!  

Saturday, May 8, 2021
6pm
at the Sugar Land Marriott Town Square

Emcee: Michele Fisher
Auctioneer: Johnny (Bravo) Holloway

 

We’re going to party like it’s 1991!

We are excited to announce our in-person – 30th Birthday Gala for the Children celebrating 30 years of making a difference for children. Celebrate in style with music, a delicious dinner, incredible silent and live auction, raffle, our popular wine and gift card pulls AND success stories over the years.

This is one event you won’t want to miss in 2021!

We are currently seeking sponsorships, auction donations and committee volunteers. If you are interested or have any questions, contact Tarina at TSheridan@cafb.org.

To sponsor go to https://www.cafb.org/events/gala/


Mark your calendars!

 

February 2, 2021 Voices for Children Tour
10am
Via Zoom

Contact Dana Mersiovsky at DMersiovsky@cafb.org for link.

 

February 16 – 17, 2021 CASA Day at the Capitol (virtual)
Virtual

For details or to register https://texascasa.org/casa-day-at-the-capitol/

 

February 18, 2021 Voices for Children Tour
4pm
Via Zoom

Contact Dana Mersiovsky at DMersiovsky@cafb.org for link.

 

March 2, 2021 Voices for Children Tour
10am
Via Zoom

Contact Dana Mersiovsky at DMersiovsky@cafb.org for link.

 

March 18, 2021 Voices for Children Tour
4pm
Via Zoom

Contact Dana Mersiovsky at DMersiovsky@cafb.org for link.

 

April 22, 2021 VIRTUAL Volunteer Appreciation Annual Celebration
6pm – 7pm
Via Zoom

Details coming soon. . .  

 

May 8, 2021 30th Birthday Gala Celebration
6pm – 11pm
Sugar Land Marriott Town Square

To sponsor or for details or more information contact Tarina at TSheridan@cafb.org or go to https://www.cafb.org/events/gala/