Newsletter

Happy Spring!

I hope that you all enjoyed Spring Break and had the opportunity to spend some relaxing time with your families.  Our Virtual Spring Break programs were a great hit with our N.E.S.T. and WINGS kids.  We had to forego our usual in-person Spring Break activities this year and instead developed four unique GiveBack Boxes which our volunteers delivered to our kids at their placements the week prior to their school break.  Each box had specific activities, goals, and a deliverable that our kids had to complete and turn in to be eligible for incentive prizes including candy, toys, headphones and gift cards.  If they completed all the activities, they were entered into a raffle drawing for a tablet.  All their hard work and preparation culminated in a Zoom socially distanced interactive session with the kids and our CASA Team where they showed off their projects.  They were very engaged and liked it so much that we may incorporate this novel approach in future programming.

We are very busy at CAFB.  April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and we are kicking it off with our Annual Light of Hope Ceremony on Thursday, April 1 at the Historic Richmond Courthouse on Jackson Street.  The Exchange Club of Fort Bend has installed a beautiful Child Abuse Honorarium Field of 2,274 white stakes tied with blue ribbons, each one commemorating one child victim served by Child Advocates of Fort Bend last year.  On April 22, we celebrate YOU, our volunteers with our Annual Volunteer Celebration.  We have a wonderful “virtual” evening planned so please tune in and join us to recognize our amazing volunteers and honor our award winners.  On May 8, we will host our 21st annual Gala at the Sugar Land Marriott.  This year’s celebration is a birthday party theme to recognize our 30th year serving children and families in Fort Bend County.  We look forward to celebrating this incredible milestone with our volunteers, donors, partners, staff and guests.

Thank you for all you do for the children, particularly over the past year which has brought so many challenges.  Your commitment and dedication are truly commendable.  The smiles and joy you bring to the children through your strong advocacy for their needs will reap huge impacts for years to come.

For the Children’s Sake,

Ruthanne Mefford
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend


 


Thank you Fluor Foundation!

Special thanks to CAFB Board Member Barbara Jones and our friends at the Fluor Foundation who recently awarded us a very generous grant that will provide funding to address the current therapy waitlist and accelerate access to care for these children. This grant comes at a perfect time when we are experiencing a surge in new reports of sexual abuse following months of children being isolated in their homes due to COVID-19 protocols and not having anyone to tell what is happening to them or having the watchful eyes of teachers and school administrators who often see signs and symptoms early and can intervene before abuse escalates.

In addition, the grant will provide an opportunity for the children we serve in both our Children’s Advocacy Center and CASA Programs to receive books that highlight the STEAM contributions and inventions of African Americans throughout history. Children in our CAC who come for therapy and children accompanied to court by our Criminal Court Advocates will be given books that serve as inspiration for the difficult journeys that they are going through and that they can achieve.

We welcome the opportunity for our CASA youth to experience a real-life exhibit of inventions and contributions by African Americans. These inspiring stories will be delivered to children in the N.E.S.T. and WINGS Fall, Spring and Summer programs and throughout the year as gifts in our Treasure Room, National Adoption Day, visits by CASA Volunteers and at Therapy Milestones and Graduations.  This is especially meaningful because the reading material will reach the diverse and minority populations reflected in the children we serve. Over 80% of our children are children of color:  37% Hispanic, 26% African American, 9% Multi-Racial and 5% Asian. CAFB is developing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) plans in line with directives from our state agencies to ensure that these children are treated with equity and inclusion. Having access to books that profile leaders who demonstrated inventiveness, innovation, creativity and determination will serve as a beacon of hope and healing for our children.

 

 


Thank you for Your Generosity!

Claudia Currarino donated all these baby items for a couple of clients who have had babies recently. Claudia, thank you for thinking of CAFB and for your generosity to our clients. We appreciate it!

 


USA National Miss Texas Pageant

Thank you to USA National Miss Texas Pageant! For four years, this wonderful group of girls has been donating stuffed animals and books for the children we serve and this year was no exception. What a sweet and generous group!


Program Updates

Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)

It has been another very busy month in our Children’s Advocacy Center. The number of children and families needing our services continues to increase. We are up 42% this year-to-date in the number of families compared to this time last year. Our CAC team and volunteers are doing a great job keeping up and making sure that all the kids are welcomed and that their needs are met. From interviewers to family advocates to therapists and criminal court advocates, our staff are working together, and we cannot thank them enough for all their hard work!

Court Appointed Special Advocates Program (CASA) and Community Engagement

Last month’s unprecedented winter storms forced our CASA team to re-schedule CASA Capitol Day’s virtual meetings with legislators, keeping our team busy.  With the help of technology, our team was able to meet “virtually” with legislators in March to share updates of our agency, highlight our legislative priorities and present our case for continued funding.

Collaborative Family Engagement (CFE) Coach Jackie Townsend has finalized a CFE Focus Group report showing the impact of CFE. Jackie worked with 6 stakeholder groups to provide feedback on the program and information on how to move the program forward in the months and years ahead.


(nest chalk art GiveBack activity)

Our NEST and WINGS teams held virtual Spring Break events in March. GiveBack boxes were delivered to participating youth with activities that they could do from home to bring joy to those in need.  The boxes included supplies to make thank you cards for law enforcement, military and medical professionals and birthday cards for senior citizens, sidewalk chalk art with positive messages (see above), a coloring page and blue ribbon to tie around a tree to raise awareness about April Child Abuse Prevention Month and other activities. Youth who participated were eligible to win prizes. Youth shared their experiences in a ZOOM call with CASA Team staff.

Our Community Engagement Team Outreach Coordinator Lindsey Castellanos completed “Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children” Facilitator Training which will allow us to add to our prevention curriculum for community organizations and schools. In addition, our entire Community Engagement Team has been working on Child Abuse Prevention Month activities including this evening’s Light of Hope Event which is a collaborative effort of CAFB and our friends at Exchange Club of Fort Bend. Join us in person or on FB live tonight (April 1) at 5pm in front of the Historic Courthouse (401 Jackson Street) for the dedication of the Exchange Club of Fort Bend awareness field, a proclamation by County Judge KP George and a drive through celebration with t-shirts, pinwheels and more.

 

 

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. April’s Topic Talk Let’s Talk COVID is scheduled for April 5 from noon to 1:00.

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

 

 

Mission, Vision and Values

We have updated our Mission, Vision and Values.  Our new Mission Statement reflects our role to strengthen children’s voices, our expanded service area, and our focus on children and families.  Our Vision is aspirational and reflects our “Break The Cycle” prevention programming across our entire agency and community outreach.  Our new Values are presented in a memorable acronym CHILD and better capture the spirit and culture that is Child Advocates of Fort Bend.

Mission:  Strengthen the Voice of the Child, Heal the Hurt and Break the Cycle of Abuse and Neglect for Children and Families in Fort Bend and Surrounding Counties

Vision:  End the Cycle of Child Abuse and Neglect

Values: Collaborative, Healing, Inclusive, Life-Changing, Dedicated

 

 


Kudos to Our Social Workers

Special thanks to our wonderful and dedicated team of social workers who work hard all year long. March was National #SocialWorkMonth! We have social workers in both our Children’s Advocacy Center and our CASA Program. We are fortunate to have this dedicated team serving children and families every day in every area of our agency. Our CAC Program Director, CASA Program Director, Clinical Family Advocates, some of our Forensic Interviewers, members of our Therapy Department, and Courtesy CASA are social workers. They and their peers work tirelessly to improve the lives of the children we serve, and we would not be able to help children heal their hurt without them. We thank our special team of social workers and others everywhere for the transformative and critical work you do!  You inspire us every day!

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

Are you ready to celebrate with us at a live event? We are gearing up for an amazing evening! Reserve your seat now to help us celebrate 30 years of making a difference for children in style with a live band, delicious dinner, incredible silent and live auctions, raffle, our popular wine and gift card pull AND success stories over the years. Stay tuned for details as the planning continues. . .

We will have safety protocols in place and will have tables for 8 (instead of 10), with extra space between, to allow for social distancing. Masks are required except when eating and drinking.  Our auction area will have one-way directional flow with extra space to allow for safe distancing.

Sponsorships and seats are still available. Contact Tarina at TSheridan@cafb.org or go to https://www.cafb.org/events/gala/ to reserve yours today.

Watch our social media for a sneak peek at our auction.
Want to help us? Check out the graphic below to see what we need and how you can help.

Questions? Contact Tarina at TSheridan@cafb.org.


Mark your calendars!

 

April 1, 2021 Light of Hope
5pm
Historic Courthouse (401 Jackson Street, Richmond, TX)
And via Facebook Live

Join us to kick off April Child Abuse Prevention Month with the dedication of the Exchange Club of Fort Bend awareness field, a proclamation by County Judge KP George and a drive through celebration with t-shirts, pinwheels and more.

 

 

April 5, 2021 Let’s Talk About It VOUNTEER BOOK CLUB
6pm – 7pm
Via Zoom

Due to confidentiality, the book club is for ACTIVE Volunteers only and meets on the first Monday of each month. To join the group, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/4405367996146550. 

 

 

April 5, 2021 Fostering Futures Training (part 1)
10am – noon
Via Zoom

To help every young person achieve their potential, National CASA has launched Fostering Futures, a multi-year initiative to strengthen our service to the older youth we already serve, expand our services to more youth preparing to age out of foster care, and ensure that foster care alumni have the support they need to thrive as adults. Join us for our 4-part series. NOTE: You must attend all four parts for CE credit.  Register at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEtfuChpj8iGNw7_VsvFvxfeSsd6t_ur57L.

 

 

April 6, 2021 Voices for Children Tour
10am
Via Zoom

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

 

 

April 8, 2021 Fostering Futures Training (part 2)
10am – noon
Via Zoom

To help every young person achieve their potential, National CASA has launched Fostering Futures, a multi-year initiative to strengthen our service to the older youth we already serve, expand our services to more youth preparing to age out of foster care, and ensure that foster care alumni have the support they need to thrive as adults. Join us for our 4-part series. NOTE: You must attend all four parts for CE credit.  Register at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEtfuChpj8iGNw7_VsvFvxfeSsd6t_ur57L.

  

 

April 12, 2021 Fostering Futures Training (part 3)
10am – noon
Via Zoom

To help every young person achieve their potential, National CASA has launched Fostering Futures, a multi-year initiative to strengthen our service to the older youth we already serve, expand our services to more youth preparing to age out of foster care, and ensure that foster care alumni have the support they need to thrive as adults. Join us for our 4-part series. NOTE: You must attend all four parts for CE credit.  Register at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEtfuChpj8iGNw7_VsvFvxfeSsd6t_ur57L.

 

 

April 13, 2021 Trauma Informed Care Conference
9am – 1:30pm
Via Zoom

Featured presenter include child abuse survivors Steven and Sam; Diane Vines, LMFT, LPC, RPT (Child Trauma Academy); Sandra Lopez, LCSW, ACSW, DCSW; and Amanda Purvis, Training Specialist (Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development). Register at https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Fa29JH0tQQy-VB-_U6xrCQ.

 

 

April 15, 2021 Voices for Children Tour
4pm
Via Zoom

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

 

 

April 15, 2021 Fostering Futures Training (part 4)
10am – noon
Via Zoom

To help every young person achieve their potential, National CASA has launched Fostering Futures, a multi-year initiative to strengthen our service to the older youth we already serve, expand our services to more youth preparing to age out of foster care, and ensure that foster care alumni have the support they need to thrive as adults. Join us for our 4-part series. NOTE: You must attend all four parts for CE credit.  Register at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEtfuChpj8iGNw7_VsvFvxfeSsd6t_ur57L.

 

 

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

 

 

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/