Watch the video below to hear a message from Ruthanne
We may have changed the methods and way that we work but we remain steadfast to our mission and extremely grateful for the support of the generous Fort Bend Community. As an essential services business, we continue to conduct forensic interviews in our Children’s Advocacy Center. We are so grateful to the following generous individuals and community groups who have provided us with masks to help protect our staff, our partners and the children: District Attorney Brian Middleton, Pat & Brad Somers, St. Laurence Catholic Church ministries, Debbie Poncik, Pat Pondell, Nikki Agner, Diane Le Noto, Mar Martinez and Matthew 25:35, Layla Kutty, Madeline Coleman, Sandra Baseio, Fort Bend Community Church, Teresa Mason and Tompkins HS Robotics Team-The Steel Talons. Our staff, our partners and the children and families thank you and are grateful for your kindness!
Thank you, Miss Sugar Land Outstanding Teen 2020
Zona Johnson, Miss Sugar Land Outstanding Teen 2020, is trying to bring awareness to the problem of child abuse. The Miss America organization encourages teens to promote causes on social media so Zona reached out to our agency several months ago and this poised young woman has been diligently working to spread the word about the work that we do. Recently, she created a Go Fund Me campaign for her platform initiative with the goal of raising $15,000, which she plans to donate to us. We are grateful to Zona and extremely proud of her! Although she only launched a couple of weeks ago, Zona is more than halfway to her goal already. For more information about her platform initiative or to give to her campaign go to https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/zona-johnsons-platform-initiative
Facebook Giving Campaign Launched
We are seeing the impact that COVID-19 in having on the world and especially in our community. Our focus, as always in on the needs of the children. With several of our events cancelled or postponed, we face a significant shortfall in funding. As a result, we recently launched a Facebook fundraiser to raise $10,000 during the months of April and May. Please help us bridge this funding gap one dollar at a time. You can donate through this Facebook Fundraiser or online at https://www.cafb.org/donate/. Thank you for your continued support and know that every dollar given and every share or like of a post is greatly appreciated.
Due to COVID-19, we have had to change the way we communicate with our children, caregivers, parents and partners. We continue to do the work, but we have had to come up with creative ways to ensure we are seeing that our children’s needs are being met. Case review team meetings are now being held virtually (as illustrated in the photo). Therapists are engaging in distance therapy and sharing helpful tips and information for parents via the Therapist’s Corner blog on our website. CAC staff are conducting interviews in the office with measures in place to protect staff, partners, children and families. Our Clinical Family Advocates continue to meet with families to provide crisis intervention and connect them with resources to help their children heal. During this time, they have also been busy connecting them to resources related to Covid-19.
CASA Advocates are maintaining contact with kids through several virtual platforms and monitoring their needs. They continue to provide written court reports to the Court, which are more important than ever now. Advocates and Advocacy Specialists began testifying in court hearings this month by way of Zoom. Collaborative Family Engagement meetings and Circle of Support meetings are also being held by Zoom.
Here are a few snippets about work we’ve done this month.
Physical distancing is difficult for everyone, but it is especially difficult for the children we serve in foster care who have been removed from their homes and often separated from their siblings. Our children are unable to have face to face contact with their siblings and parents due to social distancing and safety concerns. A mom and newborn baby cannot have visits because the mom’s drug rehab won’t allow anyone to come into the facility. The caseworker is sending the mom pictures of the baby.
A child with developmental delays and mental health issues has been placed in another county as there is no placement in this area that can meet his needs. CPS found a home for him nearly 800 miles away, however he has been placed in 14-day quarantine because the Mayor of that city has enforced quarantines for anyone who comes into their city from 100 miles away.
Another youth who is in college was forced to leave her dorm. She has a place to stay but she didn’t have assistance to get her items out of the dorm on short notice. We successfully advocated for her to get an extension until we can help her get her items, however she is waiting on a date to pick up her belongings. School has started online again but her books and study materials are still in her dorm.
We checked in with our WINGS alumni and one youth reported that he has been laid off due to COVID-19 and is struggling to maintain basic needs at this time. We are assisting him.
Our work continues. We continue to focus on the children, and we remain grateful to our wonderful volunteers, partners and donors as we adapt to the challenges we now face due to COVID-19. We need your help now more than ever before.
Dedicated to Looking Out for Children
We are so very grateful to all first responders and medical personnel who are giving so much of themselves daily to keep the community safe during this unprecedented time. There is another group of professionals who are also out there daily keeping our community’s children safe – our partners at Children’s Protective Services (CPS). Their work continues unchanged. These dedicated professionals are out in the community daily investigating cases of child abuse and neglect to ensure that during these stressful times our children are not another casualty of this pandemic. CPS are first responders during this crisis. They are out on the front lines in their masks and gloves working collaboratively with law enforcement to ensure children are safe.
We know that stress often leads to an increase in child abuse. We also know that when children are isolated and do not have safe people to tell, they are at greater risk for abuse. We encourage everyone to remain connected to the children in your lives so that you can be their safe person. If you suspect a child is being abused please make a report to the statewide hotline at 1-800-252-5400.
Distance Therapy UPDATE
We have been eager to start our distance therapy counseling so that we don’t have a disruption in the treatment for our clients. Not only are we able to keep our current clients receiving services, but it has also given us the ability to connect with some of the children on our therapy waitlist and move them forward on their journey to healing. Watch the video to hear from therapist Lauren Klosterboer about her experience with distance therapy.
Celebrating Amid the Quarantine
Being in foster care, separated from family and living in a residential treatment center is hard enough but what happens when you throw in a birthday? Our amazing advocate, Elizabeth Hendrie, knew the importance of celebrating her 15-year-old CASA youth’s birthday even during this time of social distancing. She came up with a plan to celebrate her youth’s birthday by having a “window celebration.” Elizabeth, the CASA Advocacy Specialist, and CPS Caseworker, went to the youth’s placement with balloons and signs to show her while she watched from the window. They left a cake and gifts for the youth on a table and watched her open gifts from afar. Thank you, Elizabeth, for being a wonderful advocate!!!!
Our Outreach Team has been extremely busy in April bringing awareness to the issue of child abuse, providing informative and fun activities for children and families AND sharing our mission with the community virtually. Tune into our Facebook page Tuesdays at 2pm. In April, our staff of social workers and therapists shared online tips and support for families going through these uncertain times and were on Facebook Live to chat and answer viewer questions. We’re continuing this great series in May so mark your calendar and plan to join us. Check our Facebook page for the May topics.
Every Friday in May, Community Outreach Coordinator Lindsey Castellanos provides Friday Fun Day Activities for children and families. Watch the videos of Lindsey and her children doing the activities on our Facebook page. They created pinwheel gardens, engine plates, chalk drawings and painted rocks with blue ribbons in April. Join us to see what fun activities they have for May. Have you done any activities with your family for child abuse prevention month? Share your photos with us via our Facebook page or email them to Lindsey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you looking for ways to engage your staff or volunteers while working from home? Child Advocates of Fort Bend offers many different educational opportunities for your group from the comfort of your home! In April we had the opportunity to train almost 100 volunteers with Sugar Creek Baptist Church Children’s Ministry during a virtual Break the Cycle: Community event. This training will prepare volunteers to respond to and report suspected child abuse among their youngest and most vulnerable members. If you would like more information or to schedule a virtual event with us please contact Community Outreach Coordinator, Lindsey Castellanos at email@example.com.
Text Messaging added to Volunteer Communications
In an effort to provide our volunteers with more virtual resources, we have added a text messaging feature to our communications. If you are current volunteer, you will receive a text message to introduce you to our mobile website and Drip Learning from our training resources.
What is Drip Learning? Drip learning consists of text messages that contains content that volunteers can access with continuing education and resources each week. Each “drip” allows volunteers to get approximately 5 minutes of continuing education each time they click on the content that is sent. These links include articles, podcasts and other online resources. This will allow volunteers to access up to 10 Continuing Education hours per year just by reading their texts! Look forward to receiving helpful tools and resources soon!
Want more information? Please feel free to contact Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Thank you Deann and Mark Rueff and Sequent Energy Management!
Special thanks to CASA Advocate Deann and Mark Rueff for stepping up to help fund a current need. They combined forces with Sequent Energy Management to help purchase laptops for the many children we serve so they may participate in their online schoolwork. Youth who also receiving therapy services now also have access to distance counseling sessions with their CAFB therapist.
Currently, staff members and volunteer Advocates are focused on the safety and well-being of these youth. Those who need assistance with school or require medical services are being addressed with the utmost priority. With the closing of the schools and remote learning a priority, many of these youth do not have access to a computer. This technology is critical right now for these vulnerable youth to continue their path of learning, healing and succeeding.
Deann has been a CASA volunteer for over five years. She has served a total of five children on three separate cases. Two of those cases had children in different states, Colorado and California, and one case that lasted for 3 years. Deann’s commitment and her ability to advocate for the children she has served make her a vital asset to Child Advocates of Fort Bend and we are beyond blessed to have her.
We’ve rescheduled our Gala for Friday, August 21, 2020. Stay tuned for details. We are looking forward to an extra special evening and would love for you to join us!
The children are counting on us and we need your support now more than ever. Click HERE to review the available sponsorship opportunities and purchase of individual seats. Thank you for your continued support. For more information please contact Tarina at TSheridan@cafb.org.
Mark your calendar!
May 5, 2020 Tuesdays at 2pm on Facebook Live
Check our Facebook page for topic
May 12, 2020 Tuesdays at 2pm on Facebook Live
Check our Facebook page for topic
May 19, 2020 Tuesdays at 2pm on Facebook Live
Check our Facebook page for topic
May 26, 2020 Tuesdays at 2pm on Facebook Live
Check our Facebook page for topic
August 21, 2020 Gala RESCHEDULED DATE
December 11-12, 2020 Christmas Home Tour