CAFB July News

We are having a busy Summer at Child Advocates of Fort Bend.  We kicked off our programming with two wonderful weeks with our WINGS youth and we celebrated high school seniors who graduated from high school and N.E.S.T. youth who did well in school. Read more about those things below. We will host our N.E.S.T. children later this month with our week long N.E.S.T. workshop. These enrichment learning opportunities provide these children with unique experiences for STEM learning in a fun, interactive format.  Thank you to all our volunteers who helped with all of these workshops as chaperones.  We couldn’t have done it without you!

We are making big progress on the remodel and expansion of our building.  The interior of the building has been demolished and new walls and plumbing are being installed.  We have installed the foundation for the 9,000 square foot expansion to house our new CAC and will be putting up steel for the walls and roof this week.  Furniture, signage, landscape and AV designs have all been bid out and will be finalized in the next month.  To pay for all this, our For The Children’s Sake Capital Campaign has been very busy hosting small group gatherings at people’s homes and submitting grant applications to foundations for capital grants.  We are thrilled that our volunteers, friends, board and staff have recognized the critical need for these expanded services so that we can serve every child who needs help and not have to turn away any child for therapy by putting them on a wait list.  We are excited to share the wonderful news that we have raised $6.4 million!  We will be expanding our outreach to the broader community over the coming months to invite others to get involved with their support and help us reach our goal of $8 million.  Thank you so much to all of you who have made a personal commitment.  We appreciate all your support.

Happy Fourth of July!  Enjoy the holiday with your family and friends.  Thank you for all you do for Child Advocates of Fort Bend and the children who benefit tremendously from your care, love and support.

For the Children’s Sake,

Ruthanne Mefford
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend

The Campaign For the Children’s Sake is about building far more than a structure.

It is about transforming lives for generations to come.

 

Due to the growth in Fort Bend County, and to double-digit increases in the reporting of child abuse and referrals to CAFB, the number of children being served has increased by 53% in the past 5 years with no slowdown in sight. This dramatic increase has forced many children and families to wait for services they desperately need. Just imagine a child has found the courage to speak up about abuse, only to be asked to take a number. This is simply not acceptable. CAFB has created a plan to increase the agency’s capacity to serve by expanding our current facilities by 50%, hiring new staff and recruiting more volunteers.

Thank you to the many early donors who have helped us reach this point in our fundraising. We ask for the entire community’s help to reach our $8 million goal – to make the vision become reality – of serving every child with every service. In the coming weeks and months, we will be ready to bring you more information about our progress and how to help. Please check www.cafb.org frequently and subscribe to e-updates. If you are interested in donating, please contact Jessica Jubin, Development Officer – Campaign Manager jjubin@cafb.org 346-327-3606. For The Children’s Sake, thank you.

Thank You Walmart!

Walmart is joining the growing community of support for Fort Bend County youth who are aging-out of the foster care system. National outcomes for foster youth show a dismal future. Yet, in Fort Bend County, there is a different story being written for youth exiting the system thanks to support for CAFB’s intervention and prevention program called WINGS. When WINGS first began many years ago, only 25% of students were graduating high school. Now, the graduation rate consistently is between 80-100% every year. Contributing to this success is the fact that every youth in Fort Bend County receives a Court Appointed Special Advocate and a strong system of support through Child Advocates of Fort Bend and its many partners who provide college campus visits, life skills workshops and year-round advocacy and support through WINGS and its continuum of care approach to ensure our most vulnerable youth have a chance to fly. This year, there are 4 youth graduating high school and going on to college, and we wish them the very best and brightest futures.

Many thanks to Sherry Eberle, Manager of Walmart #4111 in Fulshear! We received Walmart’s Community Grant from the Fulshear Walmart in support of our WINGS program.

Shown (L to R) are: CAFB Children’s Advocacy Director Fiona Remko, CAFB CEO Ruthanne Mefford, Sherry Eberle (Manager, Fulshear Walmart #4111), and CAFB Legislative Action Team Chair Co-Rhonda Kuykendall.


Promotions, Welcomes and Openings

It’s been a busy summer in our Children’s Advocacy Center. We’ve promoted staff to new positions, hired new interns and we are in the process of hiring new staff. Please join us in congratulating Jessica Hernandez, LPC, LMFT who was recently promoted to the Therapy Team Lead position. Jessica joined us six years ago.

Summer usually means new interns and this summer is no exception. Amanda Gentry from the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work program will be interning with us through the summer and fall semesters. If you see her around please welcome her to our agency.

We are currently in the process of hiring another Therapist/Intake Specialist. We have also opened another position for a Children’s Services Coordinator. If you or anyone you know wants to apply please send your resume to fremko@cafb.org. More details of these positions are available on our website https://www.cafb.org/about/career-opportunities/.

Summer N.E.S.T. Volunteers Needed

Our N.E.S.T. Back to School Summer Program is Monday July 29th through Thursday August 1st, 2019! It’s a fun four days visiting museums, cooking, and learning with Thompkins High School’s Robotics Team.

We are looking for volunteers to enhance our children’s experiences.  Please let us know if you are interested in engaging with our school-aged children. To volunteer or for more information, please contact April Shaver Ashaver@cafb.org or 281.344.5210.

 
CAFB Welcomes Leadership High School 

Each summer Child Advocates of Fort Bend Looks forward to hosting LCISD high school youth participating in the Fort Bend Regional Council on Substance Abuse’s Leadership High School Program.  The week-long program runs each June and assists students in gaining knowledge of county government, Fort Bend’s diversity as a community, philanthropy, service and volunteerism, economic development and municipal government and empowers local youth to be leaders on their school campuses and in their community.

Students spent time with CAFB staff and learned about the programs the agency offers children and families in Fort Bend County. Special thanks to Danny Brewster and Ricky Holdsworth, Investigators with the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, Child Abuse Division, who gave the students a presentation on Internet and Social Media Safety.

WINGS Summer Program a Success!

We just wrapped up a successful two-week long WINGS Summer Program! During the week of June 10-14, we brought CASA and CAC teenagers on Campus Crawls to the University of Houston, Texas Southern University, Texas A&M, University of Texas, Texas State University and Sam Houston State University to learn about all the post-secondary education opportunities at each school. The youth got a taste of college life from the dorm rooms to the sports complexes, classrooms and financial aid. Our goal in doing this is to plant the seed for these very deserving young men and women to do well in high school, graduate and pursue higher education.  We also provided information about careers in the military and vocational schools to pursue careers in the trades which appeals to some of our youth.

The following week we focused on lifeskills and took our crew out into our local community to learn about transportation, housing, financial literacy, foster alumni resources, health, career readiness and education! We were thrilled to visit Depelchin, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Urban Chef, Wells Fargo, Baker Ripley, WireCo, OcuSOFT, Wharton County Junior College, Texas State Technical College, Access Health, Gillman Honda, heard a presentation from our youth’s PAL (Preparation for Adult Living) CPS Workers and even had a former foster alumni youth come and speak to our youth!

It’s been a very busy and fantastic two weeks of WINGS Summer fun! Thanks to everyone who helped make it a great and successful summer experience for our youth! We can’t wait for what next summer will bring!

 


College Signing Day!

Four of the eleven youth who graduated from high school and will be attending college this Fall attended our 2nd College Signing Day party at Sewell Audi Sugar Land. It was a great evening of celebrating their successful graduation from high school as well as their acceptance into college and their plans and goals for the future. The day would not have been a success without the assistance of DFPS, Sewell Audi, Friends Council, volunteers, staff, the graduates and their families. We are so grateful to everyone! Special thanks to Sewell for opening their doors and loaning us their facilities. We’re already looking forward to our next signing day!

 


FRIENDS of CAFB School Supply Drive

FRIENDS of Child Advocates of Fort Bend has the names of 133 children served by our agency who are in need of school supplies for the upcoming school year and they are seeking help in gathering supplies for these children. If you would like to help them fill backpacks for these children you have two options:

  1. Contact Brigit Engleman at 281-748-7987 and receive a child’s name and school supply list and shop for that child’s supplies. You do not need to purchase a backpack. FRIENDS’ membership dues are used to purchase the backpacks.
  2. You can donate $75 for each backpack you wish to fill and FRIENDS will shop for the supplies for you. Please make your check payable to FRIENDS of Child Advocates of Fort Bend and mail it to: Peggy Jackson, 2906 Carnoustie Ct., Sugar Land, TX 77479.


Staff Attend Trainings to Better Serve Children

Our social workers and Children’s Services Coordinators are always working to better serve the children. To that end, several social workers attended Identifying, Assessing and Treating Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors at the U of H Graduate College of Social Work. Our Children Services Coordinators participated in Fort Bend County Behavioral Health Services’ training on Adolescent Bullying and Suicide Risk. Shown L to R are: Children’s Services Coordinator Amna Ahmed, Bilingual Children’s Services Coordinator Giselle Andujar, Forensic Interviewer Maggie McDougle and Children’s Services Coordinator Ophelia Mok. Forensic Interviewer/Children’s Services Coordinator Heather Rashid and Bilingual Services Specialist Laura Zelaya also participated but were not present for the photo.

 


Legislative Update

CAC TX Funding

Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas will be receiving an additional $20 million in FY 20-21 over FY 18-19 state funding which will be spread across the 70 CAC Programs in the state. CAFB will receive an increase of $180,000!

TX CASA Funding

TX CASA will get an increase of $3.5 million taking our annual state funding from $13.2 million to $14.95 million!  The House had funded our full request of $4.5 million but the Senate had come in much lower in their version of the bill.  The $3.5 million represents a compromise between the two funding amounts. We don’t yet know the impact for CAFB.

Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) was fully funded by both chambers.  Texas CASA had not asked for an increase but to maintain the current funding.

Community Based Care (CBC) funding was approved.  This means that there will be five total regions  (1, 2, 3B, 8A and 8B) of the state under contract for CBC in the next two years and three of those have been granted funding to take over case management responsibilities from the state.

 

CAC Bills

CACTX successfully prevented HB1029 from becoming law

This bill would remove the statutory prohibition on the copying, photographing, duplication of forensic interviews making those videos available during the discovery process.  Christina Green testified against this bill stating 58,000 children were served and of those 70% were sexually assaulted.  She referred to this bill as a “solution in search of a problem.”  Fewer victims will come forward for fear it will be public.  While we were successful this session, this issue will be resurrected, and plans are to continue to protect the rights of child victims in Texas.

SB821 updates the Texas Family Code

SB821 will clearly align current statute with current practices, standards, services and operations of Texas CACs to align with the CACTX vision of serving every child victim of abuse in Texas with every service and every effort.  CACs were codified in 1995.  At that time only 13 CACs were in Texas for which CACTX was simply an administrative board.  The Bill Analysis states: “Nearly 25 years later, there are 71 CACs in Texas serving 208 of the state’s 254 counties. Not only has the CAC model grown its geographic footprint, but it has also grown in its sophistication, service provision, and collaboration with multidisciplinary team (MDT) partners including the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), law enforcement, and prosecution. Some edits and additions were made over time but given the success and rapid growth of CAC services, these sections are in need of a holistic update”.  In depth details of the bill can be found here:

https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/86R/analysis/pdf/SB00821F.pdf#navpanes=0

 

CASA Bills

HB53 – adds topics to be covered under Preparation for Adult Living including insurance, taxes and voting.

HB123 – Foster children can receive a copy of their birth certificate without requiring parental consent or any fee.  Also grants fee waivers when applying for a Driver’s License or ID.

HB72 – Adoptive parents can opt into STAR Health Medicaid for their child if the youth has a chronic health condition establishing a program that protects the continuity of care.

HB8922 – Requires public schools to consider foster care when taking disciplinary action.

HB1702 – Requires liaison officers at institutions of higher education who assist students formerly in foster care.

HB1709 – Requires school districts to notify DFPS if a surrogate parent has been appointed to a child with disabilities who is in the conservatorship of the DFPS.  If a court appointed surrogate parent is not properly performing their duties, the district shall consult DFPS.

HB3800 – Requires peace officers who investigate human trafficking offenses to prepare and submit a written report that includes the offense being investigated, description of the alleged prohibited conduct and identifying data of each person suspected of the crime and each potential victim of the offense.

Bills to promote trauma informed care and a more comprehensive approach to normalcy for children in care did not make it.  These bills will be readdressed in 2021.

One of CAFB priorities was to keep foster kids closer to home.  The online placement portal is scheduled to be live this fiscal year.  Andy Homer of Texas CASA wrote, “DFPS included $3.8 million as a capital item in the base budget in the LAR”.  This will be a valuable asset for CPS and CASA looking for placement availability.

 

CAFB LAT featured in Texas CASA promotional video

Rhonda Kuykendall, CAFB LAT Co-Chair, has been invited by Texas CASA to be a part of their Legislative Advocacy Team promotional video.  Mrs. Kuykendall will be attending the event in Austin July 12, 2019.

 

LAT Champions. . . We Need YOU!

CAFB’s Legislative Advocacy Team is building a community, LAT Champions of Fort Bend.  LAT Champions receive emails throughout the session asking members to contact their legislators with specific requests.

The email will provide legislation background, why, important points to include and the emails of legislators to contact.  Throughout the session there are about 15 email requests.
You can make a major impact in the lives of abused children in Fort Bend County, one bill at a time.
To become a LAT Champion, send an email to Rhonda Kuykendall (rhondakuy@comcast.net) and join LAT Champions of Fort Bend on Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/groups/latchampions/

 


LATS In Action

L to R:
Sue Profilet, Kay Kizer and Rhonda Kuykendall at Foster Care Public Awareness Luncheon.  Kay Kizer is the creator of KaysCarryon.com.  Ms. Kizer spent 22 years in foster care and she has created a nonprofit providing luggage for kids in foster care.  Her motto is “Say No to Trash Bags!”

Tim and Patti Kaminski, Jacey Jetton, Jarett Nethery, Linda Adkins, Rhonda and Tommy Kuykendall at Rep. John Zerwas’s table at Richmond State of the City.

Rhonda Kuykendall at Crime Stoppers Symposium on Murderabilia with Andy Kahn. Murderabilia is the sale of art and merchandise for profit from convicted murderers and rapists.  Andy Kahan has been working for many years to make it illegal across the country for convicted prisoners to profit from their crimes.

Paula Gibson, District Director for Sen. Kolkhorst, Rhonda Kuykendall and Linda Adkins, District Director for Rep. John Zerwas celebrating the successes for Child Advocates of Fort Bend

Check out the video from CASA Day at the Capitol
https://texascasa.org/legislative/legislative-advocacy-teams/

 


Planning Christmas in July!     

Plans are beginning for the Christmas Home Tour scheduled for December 13th and 14th. 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. If would like to discuss showcasing your home and Christmas décor on the Christmas Home Tour please contact Lisa at LMoore@cafb.org.

In addition to the Home Tour, we are planning again for our 6th annual Wreath Raffle! Everyone will have an opportunity to purchase a raffle ticket and choose the wreath they hope to win. It’s a fun and selective opportunity to get into the holiday spirit and it helps the agency with a little extra fundraising.

Won’t you please help support us by donating a wreath or swag with a retail value of $150 – $500? 
We would like to receive your gorgeous creation by Friday, October 4th.

Mark your calendar!

June 29 – August 1, 2019 N.E.S.T. Summer Workshop

September 26, 2019 Voices for Children Breakfast
7am
Sugar Land Marriott Town Square

November 22, 2019 National Adoption Day
8am – noon
Fort Bend County Justice Center, 3rd Floor
1422 Eugene Heimann Circle, Richmond, TX 774699
RSVP to Metoyer at mellis@cafb.org

December 13 + 14, 2019 Christmas Home Tour
Friday 10am – 4pm and 6pm – 9pm; Saturday 10am – 4pm
Mark your calendar and watch for details. . .