We have finally turned the corner on our hot Texas summer, and we can begin to enjoy cooler days and the changing season. With so much uncertainty around the return to school, the past month has been challenging for our children as they yearn to be back in the classroom around friends and teachers, but the usual “back-to-school” ritual is very different this year with delays, continuation of remote learning, and adapting to hybrid models and many “starts and stops.” I want to thank our CASA Volunteer Advocates and CAC Volunteers who have provided so much extra support during these times to bring stability and consistency to these children and help them feel secure and safe. We had a few busy months as we have adapted and pivoted in all our services. In our CAC, the reports of child abuse were very low during the months of physical isolation of children, yet we knew that the incidence and severity of child abuse were increasing. As schools started to reopen, we are experiencing an increase in the number of forensic interviews we are providing to children who have been sexually abused, severely physically abused or witnesses to domestic homicide, which also increased during the months of physical isolation. Our CASA Advocates and staff are being very creative to stay connected with children through remote and digital means to ensure that children do not fall through the cracks. It is so important for our volunteers and staff to be trained and utilize trauma-informed approaches because so many of our children are experiencing additional trauma symptoms triggered by fear and uncertainty from the pandemic on top of the abuse and neglect that they have already endured. We will be introducing more trauma training in the coming months and year so that we can be the best advocates for our children as they navigate a changing world.
Thank you to all our volunteers, donors, partners, board and council members and staff for all you do every day to stay true to our mission of providing a voice, healing the hurt and breaking the cycle of abuse. Together, we will get through these challenging times and learn many valuable lessons along the way to be even better advocates and providers for our children.
For the Children’s Sake,
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend
Did you know that you can shop and give back at the same time?
Well. . . you can.
Child Advocates of Fort Bend is registered with AmazonSmile. This is a program through Amazon.com that will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Ft. Bend County Child Advocates, Inc. Everyday purchases by Amazon customers have resulted in over $200 million in donations by AmazonSmile to charities worldwide and almost $1,300 to CAFB.
As we head into the holiday season, please make sure that your purchases make a difference.
Start shopping today at http://smile.amazon.com/ch/76-0337426.
With summer over and school starting (in person and virtually), our Children’s Advocacy Center and CASA team have been hard at work.
Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)
Our Children’s Advocacy Center therapists and family advocates have been extremely busy. With three new therapists trained and ready to go, the entire therapy team has been focused on conducting assessments and getting new families on the schedule for therapy this month. Their hard work has paid off as they have succeeded in whittling down the waiting list from 160 to 54. We had anticipated that a return to the classroom would mean an increase in need for our services overall and that seems to be the case. By September 23, we had already conducted more forensic interviews than in August and were on track to do 30% more interviews than September of last year.
In addition, we welcomed 9 new volunteers who recently completed training to our CAC team. Melissa Johnson has been busy providing orientation for the new volunteers who finished their training and jumped in immediately taking shifts in the center. With so many new families coming for therapy, we are grateful to have them on our team.
Fall for us means new interns and this year we have two – Paula Enriquez and Nancy Mariaca. Both are students at the University of Houston’s Graduate School of Social Work and will be working with us until May 2021. Paula will graduate in May and Nancy is a first-year student.
Paula will be interning as a Bilingual Clinical Family Advocate and Therapist. She previously worked in a Residential Treatment Center for DePelchin Children’s Center. She also worked at Lamar High School, assisting non-English speaking students in transitioning into their new environment. Paula has a passion for working with children who have been abused and for advocating for the needs of unaccompanied minor children.
Nancy will be interning as a Bilingual Clinical Family Advocate. She worked with Child Advocates Inc. from 2018-2019 as an Advocacy Coordinator and Hispanic Community Specialist before starting graduate school. Prior to that, Nancy was with the Department of Family and Protective Services as a Residential Child Care Licensing Inspector from 2013-2018. Her professional goals include obtaining her license in social work and serving Latino families in a therapeutic setting.
We are so excited to have them as a part of our team!
Court Appointed Special Advocates Program (CASA)
Between attending court dockets via ZOOM, including one that lasted 8 hours, and launching the Fostering Futures training, September has been an extremely busy month for our CASA Team. Twenty volunteers participated in the 4-part Fostering Futures ZOOM training to learn how to better work with our youth. As if that was not enough, we kicked off online training for 27 new CASA volunteers virtually. Training kits, complete with hand sanitizer, pens, training materials and a fidget spinner were delivered to the trainees courtesy of our wonderful Volunteer Council. Our NEST, WINGS and Infant & Toddler teams have been hard at work on their fall incentive programs for the children and strategic planning for 2021.
Courtesy CASA Lolita Robles has been traveling across the state visiting 25 children and youth who have been placed outside of their region. She has visited kids as far away as Kerr, Mills and Hays Counties, seeing all but a handful of children who are placed outside of their region. As of the beginning of September, she is now the only Courtesy CASA in the entire state of Texas!
The National Adoption Day committee has selected a theme (Candyland) and is working with our Judges and partners to plan a virtual National Adoption Day Celebration. Please join us on November 20th at 8am via ZOOM as we celebrate opening doors and starting new families through adoption. Stay tuned for details. . .
Our Community Engagement team has been busy doing just that – engaging our community by talking to teachers, children and families about abuse prevention, risk factors, how to speak up for yourself, safety, and mental health. Since August they have talked to more than 919 students, 338 educators, 247 community members and 89 parents. September marked the return of Tuesdays at 2pm on Facebook Live with Safe Babies and Parent Coaching on the 22nd and a look into the Crime Victim’s Response Team and how they are serving victims in Fort Bend with District Attorney Brian Middleton on the 29th. Missed them and want to see them? Go to www.cafb.org and click the link for our facebook page. You can find them under VIDEOS on our Facebook page. Check our Facebook page for the October schedule.
Houston Business Journal Recognizes Ruthanne!
CAFB CEO Ruthanne Mefford has been selected as one of Houston Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business! These awards recognize the Houston area’s most successful women business leaders in for-profit and nonprofit industries. The virtual award ceremony will be held on Thursday, October 15 at 2pm. HBJ’s 2020 judges reviewed hundreds of nominations and selected ninety-six women and one lifetime achievement award winner to recognize.
Please join us for the live streamed event. You must register to watch the live broadcast of the awards ceremony, but registering is FREE. To register, go to HBJ WOMEN WHO MEAN BUSINESS. A link will be emailed directly to you on the morning of the event.
CVRT Virtual 5K
Each year, the Fort Bend County Crime Victim’s Response Team (CVRT) sponsors a fun run to fund grants to non-profits that support victims of violent crime, including Child Advocates of Fort Bend. Participating has never been easier – all you have to do is sign up and run anytime and anywhere and you have the ENTIRE month to do it! What could be better than that?
Participants will receive a Fun Run T-shirt, a medal and a drawstring bag with additional items and swag.
We’ll be running. . . will YOU?
A huge thank you to Judy McKerlie for organizing our Treasure Room! When we sent out a call that we needed some organizational help, Judy volunteered and spent 2 days helping us get it done. It was a mess and getting it organized was no small feat! Now, everything is labeled and ready so volunteers can find what they need for the children. We really appreciate all of your hard work!
Would you like to honor someone?
We all have friends, family and people in our lives who do a lot for others. You can let them know that you appreciate them by recognizing them with a birthday, anniversary, or holiday donation in their honor. Send us their name, address, and a note about why you are honoring them (i.e. – special occasion, because they give so much to others, etc.), along with a donation. We will send them an acknowledgement letter letting them know that you donated on their behalf.
Honor someone today by mailing a check to Child Advocates of Fort Bend, Attn: Irene Wisner, 5403 Avenue N, Rosenberg, TX 77471 or by
FRIENDS Drive-thru Fall Coffee
Thursday, October 22, 2020
10am until noon
In front of the Venetian Estates home of
Pat & Brad Somers
834 Bel Mar Street
Sugar Land, TX 77478
Put on your mask, bring a friend, stay in your car and drive by for a cup of coffee and a cake pop! Don’t forget to bring your membership renewal form with your $40 renewal donation. You can put a check in an envelope with your membership form or we can run your credit card.
We will have a sign-up for those interested in a virtual tour of the beautiful new CAFB building. Information on days and times will be emailed to you. We hope to see you then!
To RSVP or for more information contact Kristin Stiles-Janossy at Kristin.email@example.com.
Friends is an auxiliary league for Child Advocates of Fort Bend. For 25 years, Friends has been helping the children served by Child Advocates of Fort Bend directly through a Special Needs Fund for items and services that these children need but are unable to afford. Friends currently has over 100 members, is managed by a Friends Council and provides volunteer opportunities and social events throughout the year.
Kendra Scott Give BACK
Start your holiday shopping early and give back to Child Advocates of Fort Bend. Mark your calendar now and plan to shop October 22 & 23 (in store OR online). When you shop using the special code, they will give 20% of the profits for the two day promotion to us! Visit www.kendrascott.com to preview the jewelry today and make your wish list.
Check our Facebook page next week for the special code. You must shop on 10/22 or 10/23 AND enter the code when you check out for us to get the donation. Giveback code cannot be combined with another code.
Questions? Contact Tarina, TSheridan@cafb.org or call 281-344-5109.
Houston Open Birdies for Charity®
The Houston Open, a PGA Tour event, is November 2-8, 2020 at Memorial Park Golf Course. The Astros Golf Foundation/Houston Open is excited to start a new charity program in the Houston community. Birdies for Charity® has raised millions of dollars for local charities at various PGA tournaments across the US and this year Child Advocates of Fort Bend is one of their chosen charities!
What Is Birdies for Charity®?
Birdies for Charity® is a fundraising program designed to give local charities the opportunity to generate contributions through the Houston Open. 100% of your donation goes directly to the charity of your choice. The Houston Open will also award the top three donation-collecting charities and one randomly drawn charity with an additional bonus.
HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE IN BIRDIES FOR CHARITY®?
There are two ways to donate to the Birdies for Charity program:
1. Make a pledge of one cent or more for every “Birdie” made by the PGA Tour Pros during the Houston Open. If 1,500 birdies are made during the 2020 event, here are the totals for some typical pledge amounts:
1 cent pledge = $15 total pledge
3 cent pledge = $45 total pledge
10 cent pledge = $150 total pledge
$1.00 pledge = $1,500 total pledge
2. Make a flat donation not tied to birdies. For flat donations, the minimum is $20.
The minimum birdie pledge is $.01 and the maximum pledge is $1.00. The last day to submit a pledge is Sunday, November 8, 2020. Last year, 1,244 birdies were made at the Houston Open.
You are eligible to enter our “Guess the Birdie” contest when you donate or make a pledge to one of our local charities. Guess the total number of birdies that will be made by PGA Tour Pros during the Houston Open, Nov. 2-8, 2020. One grand prize will be given to the person who guesses the correct number. In case of ties, winners will be randomly selected. One lucky supporter of the Houston Open Birdies for Charity® program will win an Astros *Suite Night at Minute Maid Park. *Suite night 2021 date will be determined by the Astros organization and sent to the winner once determined.
Mark your calendar!
October 15 Ruthanne Honored at HBJ Women Who Mean Business Awards
October 22 Friends Drive-By Coffee
10am – noon
RSVP or for more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
October 22 – 23 Kendra Scott Give Back
For more information contact Tarina at TSheridan@cafb.org
December 10, 2020 Case Closing Celebration
6pm – 8pm
Contact Jennifer Brown for details at mailto:email@example.com
December 11-12, 2020 virtual Christmas Home Tour