October News

Friends,

The past month will be a memorable one for Houston and also for Child Advocates of Fort Bend.  With Hurricane Harvey’s destruction and 50 inches of rain, many of our children and families were impacted.  Across the state of Texas, 1200 foster children were evacuated and relocated to temporary placements.  Children under our care suffered flooding, had their homes, clothes and food destroyed and are rebuilding in the aftermath.  But the impact of the hurricane can go far beyond the physical destruction of homes and possessions.  Natural disasters can be especially traumatic for children, and particularly for our children who have already experienced loss and trauma.  Adults may be so busy with recovery efforts, that children may get pushed to the side.  Trauma symptoms can be long-lasting as young children try to make sense of the tragedy and older teens experience a loss of control.  Thank you to all the CASA Volunteers, CAC Volunteers, staff and board members who reached out to these children and families over the past month.  You are what makes Child Advocates of Fort Bend the special place that it is and brings comfort and healing during times of crisis and every day.

For the Children’s Sake,

Ruthanne Mefford
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend

Voices for Children Breakfast 

On Thursday, September 28th we held our 8th annual Voices for Children Breakfast to raise awareness about our mission and the work we are doing. It was a great success as 232 guests heard first-hand how we are transforming lives of the children and families we serve and learned about our current needs. Guests view an emotional video about the impact of our CASA program and CASA Volunteer Jackie Townsend on a young boy. CAC Volunteer Monica Maza read a heartfelt letter written by the mother of a young girl helped at our CAC which talked about the transformative and compassionate care that her daughter and she received.

Thank you to Exchange Club of Missouri City for underwriting the breakfast and to H-E-B, Ken Kosub and Limelight Films, Jim Lockwood, Monica Maza, Linda Page, Phoenix Design Group, Sign Designs, the Sugar Land Marriott at Town Square and everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to attend! Special thanks to all of our table captains and everyone who helped, joined our Voices for Children Multi-Year Giving Society, increased their pledge, or made a gift.

Want to learn how you can be a voice for children or how you can join our Multi-Year Giving Society?

Contact Irene at [email protected] or 281-344-5106.

Thank You Exchange Club of Missouri City!

Exchange Club of Missouri City has been a supporter since 1997 and has sponsored our Voices for Children Breakfast since 2015. In that time, they have provided over $100,000 in financial support to our programs, capital building projects and day to day operations. For the second year in a row, they have stepped up as a Christmas Home Tour sponsor in addition to serving as the Underwriter for our breakfast.

We thank them for their continued support!


Meet April Shaver!

The CASA program is excited to have April Shaver join our team as our N.E.S.T. Team Leader. April has a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Houston and has extensive experience in child development. She came to us from Thailand where she taught ESL for kindergarten for two years at a private Christian school. Prior to that, she spent five years working as a Child Life Activity Coordinator for Texas Children’s Hospital and a similar position for Healthbridge Children’s Hospital.

An avid runner, April is training to run the Chevron Houston Marathon in January. She has completed two half marathons already – one in Galveston and another in Cambodia. In addition to running, April loves spending time with family, cooking and photography.

We’re excited to have her as a part of our team!

Hurricane Halts Adoption

CASA is currently appointed to serve a 6-month-old baby who was born positive for drugs. This is the sixth child born to this drug-addicted mother who has tested positive for drugs with her last three babies. Since the mother has a long drug history and cannot care for the child, the baby was placed in an adoptive foster home immediately after it was born. The adoptive parents loved this baby as soon as they saw her. She has been a perfect fit for their family.

Unfortunately, this family’s home had significant damage as a result of Hurricane Harvey. So much so that their home is uninhabitable. As a result, they are currently living in a camper on their property. As they struggle to get back in their home, their CASA volunteer Catherine Navarro has been an amazing advocate and resource for the family. With the help of Child Advocates of Fort Bend and our generous donors, Navarro has been able to provide the family with gift cards for food and cleaning supplies.

Despite their current struggles, the parents have never stopped loving this baby or even thought of giving her back to CPS. In the wake of the storm, everyone is still working to ensure that this baby has a forever home. The family’s adoption process is currently on hold until the family can get back in their home.  Our hope is that her adoption will be finalized during our National Adoption Day celebration on November 18th.

Tweets, Likes and Shares: Social Media in the World of Crimes Against Children

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

9am – 4pm

As the internet continues to evolve, new layers populate where offenders commit criminal offenses. Participants will learn how the Darknet works and how potential criminal activity facilitated on the Darknet is crucial to investigating and prosecuting child exploitation cases. Presenter Lauren Wagner of SEARCH will demonstrate several of the newer applications for mobile devices that are popular for teenagers and talk about resources for social media investigations.

This training is limited to members of law enforcement, the District Attorney’s Office, CPS investigators, CAFB staff and Board of Directors only. CEUs and TCLOSE credits are pending.

ABOUT THE PRESENTER:
Ms. Lauren Wagner is a High-Tech Crime Training Specialist in the High-Tech Crime Training Services department of SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, where she coordinates and provides training on high-tech crime investigations and forensics to local, state and federal justice and public safety agencies. She provides technical assistance to law enforcement agencies in active cases, prepares training curricula, teaches SEARCH investigative courses and speaks at conferences throughout the United States. She has also authored and coauthored various high-tech crime investigative guides, which have been published by SEARCH.

For Details or more information contact Fran Clark at [email protected].

Training paid for by a grant from Houston Police Department Internet Crimes Against Children.

Human Trafficking Training

Did you know?
-Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the U.S. (second only to drugs)
-79,000 minors and youth in Texas are reported to be victims of sex trafficking.
-25% of children in the foster care system are involved in human trafficking.
-The majority of traffic victims are between the ages of 14 and 17 when they first become trafficked

Kerri Taylor and Chelsea Sanchez of UnBound Houston shared these stats and more with the 70+ people who attended the training that we hosted recently at the Gus George Academy. Guests also heard from a victim of human trafficking who shared her experience. In addition, Sherri Clement, the Founder/Director of Hope Rising talked about aftercare services for victims.

Senate Bill 1806 Goes into Effect

As of September 1, the Department of Family and Protective Services is required by law to refer cases to a children’s advocacy center in which there has been a report of alleged child sexual abuse or a child fatality and there are surviving children in the household or facility. Although CPS is still working out their protocols, we anticipate that this will increase the number of children who come through our doors. We really appreciate the Legislature’s respect for the Advocacy Center model.

TRAINING OPPORTUNITY
Surrogate Parent Training With Certificate

Under Texas Education Code Sections 29.015 and 29.0151, foster parents acting as parents for students in the conservatorship of DFPS who are eligible to receive special education services, and individuals appointed to act as a surrogate parents for children in conservatorship who don’t have anyone to act as a parent, must complete a training that fulfills the standards set by the Texas Education Agency before the next Admission, Review, and Dismissal committee meeting and no later than 90 days after serving in that role. Training is also available to any CASA Volunteers who work with children. 

November 17, 2017 from 10am-2pm
CPS Office, 2525 Murworth, Houston TX

Presenters:  Felecia Bennett-Chambers and Lettitia Thomas
To RSVP please call Angelica Medrano 713-394-4271 or
Email: [email protected]s

volunteer spotlight

Meet Dolores Collins!
CASA Volunteer Dolores Collins

Making a Difference One Child at a Time

CASA Volunteer Sandra Rios Bond attended training and was sworn in as a Court Appointed Special Advocate in 2014. Since then, she has had two cases. This dedicated volunteer works incredibly hard to make a difference for the children and families.

Currently, Bond is working with a teenage girl with severe medical needs. CPS stepped in due to concerns about the family’s ability to attend to her medical issues and Bond was appointed to be the teen’s CASA advocate.  Bond talked to all of the parties involved. She advocated in court for the teen to return home, worked with the family to help them understand what they needed to do in order to get their daughter back. Bond worked diligently to make sure that they did what they needed to do.

Her persistence, advocacy and dedication helped her CASA child’s family find and secure a new home so that her CASA youth could return home. She has consistently communicated with everyone involved in the case, including STAR Health (Medicaid) to coordinate needed medical equipment and home health nursing staff for this teen with special medical needs. In addition, because the parents do not speak English, Bond has served as an interpreter and liaison between the parents and all of those involved. She made color-coded charts and labels for all of the youth’s medications to make it easier for the mom keep track of them. She helped register all of the children for school. In addition, Sandra worked tirelessly to find, gather and deliver donations to help this family including: two twin beds and frames, one queen-sized bed and frame, bed sheets, cleaning products, food, clothes and school uniforms.

The CASA youth was moved back home with her parents and siblings last week. Because of Sandra’s hard work and dedication, this child and her family are getting back on their feet and finding the resources they need.

Hurricane Harvey Won’t Stop 
Christmas Home Tour

Even Hurricane Harvey can’t stop the 26th annual Christmas Home Tour! Planning was well underway before the hurricane hit. Marketing Specialist and Home Tour Chair Lisa Moore has talked to all of the homeowners and is busy confirming final details for this year’s tour. We’re in new neighborhoods and we have homes on both ends of the county from Long Meadow Farms to Kitty Hollow Park. We’re partnering with the Fort Bend History Association to showcase the DeWalt Heritage Center in turn-of-the-century style for the Christmas holiday.

Tickets are $25 and will be available beginning November 1.

Sponsorships from $100 – $15,000 are available now.

click for sponsorship information

 

Want to help?
Volunteer hosts and hostesses are needed to work a 2-3 hour shift in each of the homes. Cookie bakers of all ages are also needed.
To volunteer or for details on how to get involved, contact Lisa Moore at [email protected]


25th Anniversary Tiles

YOU can make a difference and leave a lasting impression. We are providing the opportunity for people in our community to purchase a tile, which will be installed on our 25th Anniversary tile wall just inside the entrance to the CAC. The wall celebrates 25 years of “having a heart” for children. It’s a great way to show your support for Child Advocates of Fort Bend, and the children we serve. All tiles will have a heart design created by a volunteer artist. Interested in painting your tile yourself? Talk to us and we’ll make the arrangements. Tiles are available in three sizes – 4 inch, 6 inch and 8 inch priced at $250., $500. and $750. For more information on our commemorative tiles contact Lisa Moore at [email protected]

 

LAST CHANCE. . .
Commemorative Pavers Available Until October 30th

For our Silver Anniversary in 2016, we introduced our commemorative 25th Anniversary brick paver program. Time is running out to get your anniversary bricks! Bricks will be adorned with our 25th Anniversary logo, and will come in a special gray color to distinguish them from our existing brick pavers. For $125 you can personalize bricks with your name, or the names of loved ones, and will be placed in either the CASA or CAC walkway leading up to our building. Bricks may contain up to 2 lines of copy and 20 characters per line. Bricks will only be available until October 30th. Show your support for Child Advocates of Fort Bend, and for the children in our community! For more information or to purchase a brick contact Lisa Moore at [email protected]


Mark your calendar and make plans to attend!

October 10: FRIENDS Coffee, Missions and Mimosas
10am until 11:30am
Bring a friend and join us for the FRIENDS Fall Membership Coffee

October 19 – 23: Texas CASA Conference in Galveston
Setting Our Course to Improve CASA’s Advocacy for Kids in Care
Register

October 20:  Backyard Launch Party of the new book Adoption Adventure Benefiting Child Advocates of Fort Bend
Details and RSVP

October 30: Golf for Greater Houston Golf Tournament

November 20th, 2017:  NEST/WINGS Fall Event
Activity schedule and details coming soon!

December 15, 2017:  NEST Fall Incentive Party
Celebrating youth who made progress throughout the semester. Location TBD and more details coming soon.