May has been a busy month at Child Advocates of Fort Bend! On the heels of completing our move to our temporary offices, we quickly focused our attention on hosting our “Up Up and Away Gala” on May 4. It was such a wonderful evening with so many friends and supporters in the room coming together on behalf of children in our community who have been abused and neglected. Our theme, “Up Up and Away” reinforced that through the work of our amazing CASA Advocates, CAC Volunteers, staff, board and partners, we are able to help children who are broken and scared when they come to us, heal and soar to new heights and bright futures. The video and program shared uplifting stories of children who are now resilient, happy and healthy. Thank you to all our donors, underwriters, auction, raffle and paddles up supporters and to the many volunteers who helped us make this year’s gala one of our very best!
The remodel of our building is progressing well with interior demolition complete and beginning the exterior demolition and framing of the expansion areas which will house the new Children’s Advocacy Center and Training and Conference Center. We have a great team at Forney Construction and Gensler Architects working hard to make this project a great success. Thank you to their teams on site and behind the scenes.
Our “For The Children’s Sake” Capital Campaign was formally announced to the public at our Gala on May 4. Our goal is to raise $8 million and we are thrilled that to date we have raised $6.2 million!! We have been presenting the project in small group gatherings hosted by our wonderful volunteers and campaign committee members. If you would like to attend a gathering or would like to make a gift towards our campaign, please let me know. We would love your support!
We have a lot planned for the upcoming Summer: N.E.S.T. Incentive Party June 7; WINGS Campus Crawl June 10 – 14; WINGS Lifeskills June 17 – 21; Summer Volunteer Training June 10 – July 5; N.E.S.T. Summer Workshop July 29 – Aug 1. And our children will be enjoying all kinds of camp opportunities including YMCA, sports camps, dance camps and more!
For the Children’s Sake,
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend
Thank You M&D Supply – Ace Hardware Rosenberg!
Thank you to M&D Supply – Ace Hardware Rosenberg for choosing us for their February and March “Round Up” Promotion. Patrons of the store were asked if they wanted to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar. The two-month promotion of change resulted in $1,410 for Child Advocates of Fort Bend. We thank them for their support and if you’re in the area be sure to visit them at 3714 Avenue I in Rosenberg.
Thank You Jessica Roos and James Bowie Middle School PALs!
The 8th grade PALs (Peer Assistance and Leadership) group at James Bowie Middle School in Richmond, mentors 6th graders at Bowie as well as 4th and 5th graders at a local elementary school. In addition Jessica Roos, their teacher and sponsor, had them focus on helping the community. This year, she had students research an organization that they wanted to help. They choose us and, when they looked at our wish list, they decided to hold a book drive. Roos (shown center with Children’s Advocacy Center staff members) dropped off the items recently. We are so grateful for their generous donation!
Fort Bend Cares is Committed to Children!
Thank you to Fort Bend Cares, one of the region’s most successful philanthropic giving circles, for its recently renewed commitment to the mission of CAFB. For 11 years running, this dedicated group of volunteers has made a huge impact in positively transforming the lives of abused or neglected children. Since 2008, its generous members and sponsors have invested over $60,000 towards CAFB’s Children’s Advocacy Center and Court Appointed Special Advocates programs. Through its destination-themed Road Trip Gala, Doggone Fun Run, Santa’s Cookie Exchange and many other fundraisers, it has generously bestowed grants to the greater Fort Bend community totaling more than $1,702,741. Thank you, Fort Bend Cares, for your continued confidence in our work!
Texas DFPS Faith Based Initiatives
Recently we were invited to participate in the “Adoption-Why Not You?” Forum at Friendship Community Bible Church in Sugar Land where we discussed ways for community members to volunteer to help our children in foster care find safe and permanent homes through our CASA program. Thank you, Texas DFPS Faith Based Initiatives, for inviting us to raise awareness about minority adoptions and helping foster families in need.
Introducing the Helping Hearts Program!
Due to the demand of Volunteers to have the opportunity to bring a spouse or designee along with them on their visits with CASA cases, we have now created the Helping Hearts Volunteer Program to allow this interaction with the children that they serve.
The Helping Heart Volunteer is someone who is referred and designated by the CASA Volunteer to assist them in their CASA duties. The Helping Heart Volunteer must be approved by Volunteer Services Team and the CASA Program Director. Like our CASA Volunteers, our Helping Hearts Volunteer will be screened and trained to be a support system for the CASA Volunteer. They will be able to assist the CASA Volunteer by providing day to day support and encouragement, be a sounding board, tag along on visits with the CASA Volunteer and assist in transporting children assigned to the CASA volunteer’s case, as approved by CAFB & CPS Supervisor.
Requirements & Qualifications Include:
- Must be 21 or older
- Submit an online Volunteer Application
- Agree to and successfully pass an FBI Fingerprint Based background check, CPS background check and Sex Offender Registry check
- Sign all Helping Hearts volunteer policies, confidentiality agreement and any other paperwork required by Child Advocates of Fort Bend
- Must have a valid Driver’s license and automobile insurance liability requirements
- Complete a volunteer interview
- Attend a 2-hour training session about the Helping Hearts Program
If you are interested in becoming a Helping Heart Volunteer, please contact Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-344-5172 for more information.
Can you spare a few hours to volunteer at the Children’s Advocacy Center?
We are looking for Volunteers who are available for a weekly shift or can “substitute” at our Center on days when we do not have enough volunteers. This will be an ongoing need until we move back to our renovated building. If you are interested in volunteering at the Children’s Advocacy Center, please contact Melissa at email@example.com for more details.
Multi-Disciplinary Team Partner Orientation
Child Advocates of Fort Bend and our partners are all in this field of work with one goal in mind – protecting children, one at a time. To that end, our Children’s Advocacy Center staff and partners from CAC CPS, Law Enforcement, District Attorney’s Office, Harris Health System came together for our annual team partner orientation so everyone can see the benefits of working as a team!
Training Our Staff to Work With Minors Who Are Victims of Sex Trafficking
Children’s Advocacy Center Director Fiona Remko and Forensic interviewers Kristy Gutierrez and Heather Rashid recently attended a Child Sex Trafficking Forensic Interviewing training put on by National Criminal Justice Training Center of Fox Valley Technical College at the Children’s Assessment Center in Houston. The training was 3 days where forensic interviewers learned how to work with a minor victim of sex trafficking. Risk factors that make the minor vulnerable to sex trafficking, trauma bonding and other issues related were also discussed. As human trafficking is a new issue within our community, it is important to be trained and prepared to tackle this new growing industry with our partners.
Student Ambassadors Bring Awareness to Our Mission
FBISD Leadership 102 student, Abigail Barriga, a senior at Ridge Point High School, closed out National Child Abuse Prevention month with the Red Sand Project on campus. She engaged her fellow students and informed them about her work with Child Advocates of Fort Bend and the increase in numbers of child abuse including human trafficking and exploitation. Together, students filled sidewalk cracks in the student parking lot and shared the message and meaning of the project.
Leadership 102 is a Student Leadership program of Fort Bend ISD. Students apply and are accepted to Leadership 101 as Juniors and continue as Seniors in Leadership 102. Student Leadership is focused on developing the leadership potential in all students through character education, various leadership development experiences, and community service.
Child Advocates of Fort Bend was fortunate to have students from 5 FBISD high school campuses who chose to support the agency’s mission. Each student became a Student Ambassador, bringing awareness of CAFB to their school campus, their community as well as family and friends. They also volunteered with our Christmas Home Tour – baking cookies and providing music at the homes. Students were engaged with our Legislative Advocacy Team and spent several months learning about the legislative priorities affecting Child Advocates of Fort Bend. They prepared a presentation and met with Senator Joan Huffman and her staff and have continued their advocacy, on behalf of CAFB, with their local legislators.
SAVE THE DATE!
KITS 10th Annual Training Conference is set for Friday, June 28, 2019 at United Way of Greater Houston. Volunteers can get Continuing Education credit for attending and CEU and CLE credits are pending for this conference.
May 27 is just around the corner and we soon shall see an end to the 86th Legislative Session.
Funding is our highest priority and it is still being decided in a Conference Committee.
House version funded our full request of $2.25 million in new funding. Senate version added $1.25 million to our current funding of $13.2 million annually.
House version funded $18 million in additional funding (breakdown–$8 million in General Revenue + $10 million in General Revenue-Dedicated from the Sexual Assault Program Fund). Senate version funded $12 million in additional funding (breakdown–$4 million in General Revenue + $8 million in General Revenue-Dedicated from the Sexual Assault Program Fund). It is our hope that in the Conference Committee, the Senate will come up to the full funding as provided by the House.
Legislation is Moving
Passed Both Chambers and Awaiting Governor’s Signature:
House Bill 1702 improves the effectiveness of the higher education foster care liaison. This legislation insures higher education liaisons have access to information from federal financial aid and Apply Texas documents to determine who may be on campus and from the foster care system.
House Bill 811 is a school discipline bill to require schools to consider a child’s foster care status or homelessness when they ae providing school discipline.
House Bill 72 has been voted out of the Senate this past Sunday, May 20. It should be on its way to the Governor’s desk very soon. House Bill 72 would allow children who are adopted out of the foster care system to be able to choose STAR Health. This bill only applies to medically fragile children.
Working their Way from House to Senate:
House Bill 123 Exempts foster kids from driver’s license fees and renewals and also use the Regional CPS office as the foster child’s home address.
House Bill 1709 requires school districts to notify DFPS if a surrogate parent has been appointed to a foster child with disabilities and other surrogate parent requirements and responsibilities.
House Bill 1029 has been left pending in Committee. This bill would have given defense attorneys copies of forensic interviews. It was the only defensive measure the CAC was taking this session. We are grateful for this outcome but must prepare for future advances in this matter
High Priority Bills:
Several high priority bills are close to completion. House Bill 53 enhances PAL curriculum. House Bill 475 provides education for foster children who are pregnant or who have babies. House Bill 3390 provides for the foster child’s input as to who are caring adults in their lives. House Bill 692 prohibits charter schools from giving out of school suspension for kids in foster care or who are homeless.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and join LAT Champions of Fort Bend on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/latchampions/
LATS In Action
L to R: Kristen Weiss, Fort Bend Chamber and Rhonda Kuykendall at Fort Bend County Day at the Texas State Capitol; Judge Carole Clarke of Smith County with Kuykendall at her presentation on how to address the impacts of trauma in the legal system; and Rhonda Kuykendall sharing information about the Legislative Advocacy Team at the Volunteer Social on May 14.
Thank you so much to all the attendees, sponsors, volunteers and donors who helped with our 19th annual Gala – Up Up and Away! We had an amazing event with live music & dancing, silent and live auction, raffle, wine & jewelry pulls and so much more. The Marriott was filled with over 525 people in bright colors and big smiles. It takes all of us to put on this event and it was successful because of everything we did TOGETHER raising over $350,000 for the programs and services we provide to the children we serve.
SAVE THE DATE for 2020 Gala – Saturday, May 2nd.
Thank you to Scotty’s Saloon at The Old Trading Post in Booth, TX for naming CAFB as the beneficiary of their Texas Music Festival held on April 13-14. Proceeds from their weekend event totaled $1,000. If you’re looking for somewhere to listen to live music and enjoy the outdoors with friends or family – check them out. They have a large venue with a VIP lounge, outdoor garden and their kitchen serves a wide variety of food. You’re going to have a great time!
Mark your calendar!
June 10-14, 2019 WINGS Campus Crawl
June 17-21, 2019 WINGS Lifeskills
June 27, 2019 Case Closing Celebration
6pm – 8pm
Veranda – Newmark model home
June 29 – August 1, 2019 N.E.S.T. Summer Workshop
September 26, 2019 Voices for Children Breakfast
Sugar Land Marriott Town Square