Newsletter

It’s already September and hard to believe the summer is winding down and the kids are back in school.  It has been a tremendously busy and productive summer for us at Child Advocates of Fort Bend.  We were delighted to host our Summer N.E.S.T. and WINGS enrichment programs in person this year coming off of virtual programming last Summer.  The CASA Team worked long hours to bring an entirely new curriculum which was S.T.E.A.M. focused for our elementary and middle school children and LifeSkills focused for our teenagers.  Over two weeks, children and youth were onsite and out in the community conducting physics experiments, developing their personal plans for success, and visiting colleges and universities.  With some districts heading back to school early this year, we distributed over 149 backpacks generously donated by Friends Council and 50 pairs of shoes donated by St. Laurence Church Social Concerns Ministry. This summer, we continued with the Assessment Phase of our Organizational Culture Initiative (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) asking volunteers and staff to provide input via survey about their perceptions of our cultural competencies and what they saw as CAFB’s strengths and weaknesses.  We had a great response rate and thank you to all the volunteers who participated in this survey.  The next steps are to identify key themes that came out of the survey findings and conduct in-depth research through Stakeholder Interviews and Focus Groups with volunteers, staff and board members.  On November 5, all volunteers, staff and board members are invited to the Gus George Center for a presentation by our consultant, Collective Experience Group.   Our Children’s Advocacy Center continues to have record numbers of children coming in for forensic interviews as the incidence and severity of child abuse continues to increase.  With school now back in session, we are forecasting these numbers to spike and stand ready to give these children the life-saving services they need to heal and recover.  And none of this would be possible without our generous donors and supporters.  Summer was a busy time for our Development Team as we hosted 3 Cocktails and Conversation small group gatherings at private homes for donors and 3 Sip and Stroll evening tours of our beautiful new campus for people interested in learning more about the transformational work we do at CAFB.  Called the “Transforming Lives Initiative” our goal is to raise $1 million this year in general donations from the community so that we can meet this increased need in services for all children and not have to turn any child away.  We are delighted to announce that we are 73% of the way to this goal.  We sincerely thank all the very generous donors who have supported this initiative and are truly making a difference in the lives of hundreds of children today and for generations to come.

Thank you to everyone for making CAFB a special place where you strengthen the voice of every child, heal their hurt and break the cycle of abuse and neglect.

For the Children’s Sake,

Ruthanne Mefford
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend


Please Consider Becoming a VOICES FOR CHILDREN Transforming Lives Breakfast Sponsor

Voices For Children Breakfast Sponsorships offer an opportunity for recognition the morning of the breakfast to over 300 guests. Sponsorships offer described recognition along with pre/post breakfast recognition on our website, social media platforms and in media press releases.  Also included with a Sponsorship are 4 invitations to the post breakfast Voices For Children Circle Celebration.

Transforming Lives Video  $8000
CAFB mission focused video presented at event will include your company logo or individual name displayed at end of video.

Mission Banner  $2500
2-4×6 mission focused banners displayed on stage with company logo or individual name during the event.

Program  $2500
Company logo or individual name on over 300 printed event programs.

Registration  $1500  SOLD TO SMART FINANCIAL FOUNDATION
Company logo or individual name displayed at event registration tables.

Coffee Bar  $1500
Company logo or individual name displayed at coffee stations in ballroom and at registration area. ­

To secure your Sponsorship or for more information
contact Dana Mersiovsky at DMersiovsky@cafb.org or 281.344.7253.

 

 

Thank you Walmart!

Child Advocates of Fort Bend received two Local Community Grant awards from area Walmart Stores supporting the CASA WINGS program. Walmart Store #4111 in Fulshear awarded $1,500 and Walmart Store #546 located at 5330 FM 1640 Road in Richmond gifted $500 toward the educational needs of youth in foster care who participate in the WINGS LifeSkills and Education programs.

Many teenage children in foster care will likely remain in care until age 18 or until they age-out. These youth will require support to enable them successful, independent living. WINGS LifeSkills programming addresses the needs of these youth (ages 14-18+) while in state care and when they transition into adulthood and age-out with training in higher education resources, career readiness, financial literacy, health care, housing and transportation and foster alumni resources.

The Walmart gifts will support youth who plan to extend their education beyond high school with college or trade school. CAFB is grateful to Walmart for being a local community supporter and recognizing that the services we provide today to transform the lives of children and strengthen families is an opportunity to break the cycle of abuse for future generations.

 

 

(L to R: Sarah Kaivani; Arika Landry and her son; CAFB Volunteer Coordinator Jennifer Brown with Archana and Arya Shah; Kaitlyn and Terri Clark with CAC Volunteer Judy Ronning)

Thank you for Your Donations!

From books to snacks to activity bags and stuffed animals, we have received so many generous donations this month. Here are just a few:

Sarah Kaivani with the Fort Bend Junior Service League donated three copies of “Oh The Places You’ll Go!” These books are given to our clients when they graduate from therapy. Thanks for your donation to celebrate our clients’ hard work in therapy.

We received several donations of activity bags and snacks this month. Arika Landry with the Fort Bend Junior Service League donated activity bags for the children who visit the CAC. Archana Shah and her daughter Arya donated snacks and activity bags filled with scented stickers, erasers and pencils in honor of her parents, Renuka and Navin Shah. We appreciate your generous donations which provide the children with something to do while waiting for therapy or interviews.

In memory of Bryan Clark, on what would have been his 40th birthday, his mom Terri Clark and sister Kaitlyn Clark donated stuffed animals to the CAC. Bryan passed suddenly last December and to honor him his family wanted to do something to bring a smile to a child’s face because he loved children so much. There will be many smiling children because of your thoughtful donation.

 


Program Updates

Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)

Our CAC staff welcomed new team member Misty Gomez on September 1. Gomez joins us as a Bilingual Clinical Family Advocate. We have a couple of open positions on our therapy team. Please visit our website career opportunities page to read all about them. If you are qualified and interested, please send a cover letter and resume to Fiona Remko at FRemko@cafb.org.

Going back to school can be an exciting time for children. They have a chance to see their friends again, use all their favorite new school supplies, and be ready to learn about lots of brand-new things. Parents have been busy preparing their kids for school to give them a good start to the year. There is a lot of talk about safety for children and teens in schools this year. The Children’s Advocacy Center staff encourages parents to take this opportunity to also educate your children about child abuse safety. Talk with your kids about boundaries and what is appropriate and not appropriate. Tell them to trust their instinct if someone does or says something to make them feel uncomfortable. The best tool you can give your child is that of open communication. Let them know that they can talk to you about those feelings and through your actions, show that you are listening. You can also help them identify additional people they trust that they can talk if something were to happen that made them feel uncomfortable.

Preparing kids for school or being away from home should always include an element of personal safety. Take this time to open the lines of communication with your children.

 

Court Appointed Special Advocates Program (CASA) 

Our CASA and Community Engagement teams have been extremely busy this summer and have a lot coming up this Fall. Here’s a quick rundown on what we’ve been doing:

CASA is partnering with TBRI Practitioners from local organizations to establish the Fort Bend County TBRI Collaborative. The goal of this collaborative is to support the healing process for Fort Bend youth who have experienced trauma by facilitating training based upon Trust-Based Relational Intervention®. By providing training and support across systems, we hope to equip child welfare professionals, volunteers, teachers, juvenile justice professionals, and others with tools that bring healing and hope to vulnerable children in our community. Stay tuned for more information regarding our website launch and training opportunities.

Our Courtesy CASA Team has been hard at work ensuring the safety and wellbeing of youth who are placed outside of their home counties. Local CASA programs across the state of Texas can request Courtesy CASA visits for children who are in urgent need of an in-person visit that their volunteer or program cannot currently provide. Most programs request ongoing monthly visits. Once a visit has been made, Courtesy CASA staff members Lolita Robles and Stevie Irby report their findings and provide pictures of the children and their placement directly to the local CASA program. The information gathered during the visit allows the primary CASA and their supervisor to make informed recommendations to the judge and ensure the child’s needs are being met. Lolita and Stevie utilize trauma informed strategies and have recently introduced Collaborate Family Engagement (CFE) tools to youth. Collectively they have visited over 60 children in 2021 and expect to visit many more. For more information or to request a visit, please contact Krystal Vann at KHughes@cafb.org.

We were selected as one of four local programs to participate in an Early Collaborative Family Engagement (ECFE) Pilot Project between April 1, 2021 and June 30, 2121.  The pilot was designed to use CFE within the first fourteen days of new case appointment by collaborating with Investigations, Child Protective Services, the legal community, and other stakeholders on family engagement work; sharing information with family during court proceedings and following up by using CFE Tools to engage families, an convene initial CFE Meetings.  The project wrapped up earlier this summer and Pilot Project results supported the continuation of ECFE within the CFE Program.

Our Community Engagement Team has been extremely busy in August with presentations and trainings including more than 390 staff members from FBISD, Lamar CISD and several other area schools with more presentations scheduled for September. In addition to training area teachers, CAFB staff and volunteers participated in a facilitator training for the Monique Burr Foundation Child Safety Matters School Prevention Curriculum to begin using this school year. MBF Child Safety Matters® is a comprehensive, evidence-based curriculum for elementary school students in grades K-5. The program educates and empowers children and all relevant adults with information and strategies to prevent, recognize, and respond appropriately to bullying, cyberbullying, all types of abuse, and digital abuse dangers.

On September 16, we are offering a training to volunteers called “Advocating In Schools”. The training will be offered via Zoom and will run from 10:00 am until noon. For more information or to register 

Our Fall Volunteer training class starts later this month and is full. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a volunteer and would like to be added to the waiting list, please contact Jennifer Brown at JBrown@cafb.org.

 

 

Nurturing Advocacy for Children in Elementary and Middle School

CASA team members April Shaver and Krystal Vann sat down with Texas CASA CEO Vickie Spriggs to talk about how they are nurturing advocacy for children in elementary and middle school as a part of Texas CASA’s video series entitled Conversations with CASA. Krystal and April shared their favorite things about working with kids 6-13, the importance of nurturing their self-esteem and identity, encouraging positive habits, helping them build a strong educational foundation and more. They also gave their top advice for CASA Volunteers advocating for children at this critical point in their development.
Watch the video now

 

BACKPACKS For Back to School!

Every year our FRIENDS auxiliary group provides backpacks full of supplies to the children we serve, and this year was no exception. In early August, they delivered 149 backpacks which our staff and volunteers delivered to the children in time for the start of school.

The FRIENDS backpack program provides the children served by Child Advocates of Fort Bend with a sense of normalcy. These children have experienced significant trauma and losses in their lives. Many of our children have faced so many changes in short time periods. “They are not just starting a new school year, many are starting new lives,” stated CASA Program Director Metoyer Martin. “Having a new backpack filled with all the school supplies they need helps build their confidence and can set the course of the school year for them. No child should have to go to class feeling embarrassed to have to ask their teacher to borrow a pencil. FRIENDS makes sure those feelings never come to the children we serve.”

Thank you to our FRIENDS group and to everyone who supported them by donating for their backpack drive or purchasing supplies to help get the children off to a good start this school year!

 

 

 

CAFB Volunteer Handyperson Needed

We are looking for a volunteer who has a few hours a week to help out at our building with general maintenance.  If you can spare some time and are “handy” with tools and fixing things around your house, we’d love to talk to you! Check out the job description now!

For more information or to volunteer, contact Cathy Zapalac at CZapalac@cafb.org.

 

 

 

FRIENDS Tea & Crumpets

FRIENDS of Child Advocates of Fort Bend invites you to put on your hat & gloves and join them for their annual membership event – Tea & Crumpets on Friday, October 15 at the CAFB office. For more information or to RSVP contact Kristin Stiles-Janossy at Kristin.Janossy@gmail.com.


Planning Underway for 30th Christmas Home Tour and 8th Annual Wreath Raffle!    

The Christmas Home Tour is scheduled for December 10th and 11th. The two-day Home Tour hosts visitors from all over Fort Bend County and surrounding areas. Over 3,000 guests will tour the homes, including the 800 volunteers that take their time to volunteer. We are so excited to be including four amazing homes for our in-person event this year!  This year’s homes are located in Sienna, two in Sweetwater and, for the first time, in Hillcrest Estates.

Do you want to help?  Please grab your friends and be a host with a Home Tour committee or share your baking skills with your special homemade cookies.  We are also planning for our 8th annual Wreath Raffle! Everyone will have an opportunity to purchase a raffle ticket and choose the wreath they hope to win. 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.  We will come to your home/business to pick up.

For information on Sponsorships, Tickets, Volunteering or Donations view website or contact Tarina Sheridan at TSheridan@cafb.org today!

 

 

 

Fluor Cares and Golf for Greater Houston

Golf for Greater Houston is excited to announce its return for 2021 and CAFB is a beneficiary for this 12th annual charity event! Mark your calendars for Monday, October 4th at Black Hawk Country Club in Richmond, TX and let us know if you are interested in playing on a team. Contact Lisa Moore at LMoore@cafb.org to learn more.


Mark your calendars!

September 16, 2021 Advocating In Schools Training
10am – Noon
Via Zoom

For more information or to register go to https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0oduCopjMoHtK6cO68DsJQzGOIHVAW1j7Q. 

 

September 28, 2021 Summer Sip & Stroll
5:30 – 6:30
CAFB Office

Join us for light bite, a sip of wine and a tour through our Davis George Campus. Meet our staff, hear the stories of the children we serve and learn more about the work that we do.

To RSVP or for more information contact Dana Mersiovsky at DMersiovsky@cafb.org or 281-344-7253.

 

October 15, 2021 FRIENDS Tea & Crumpets
1pm – 3pm
CAFB Office

Contact Kristin Stiles-Janossy at Kristin.Janossy@gmail.com to RSVP or for more information.

 

December 10 + 11 Christmas Home Tour
Friday 10am – 4pm + 6pm – 9pm
Saturday 10am – 4pm

To sponsor, volunteer or for more information contact Tarina Sheridan at TSheridan@cafb.org.