It is hard to believe that we made it through the summer and all that it has brought. We have had our challenges over these months as we adjusted to the “new normal” and were forced to pivot in every line of service. We introduced digital and virtual trainings to our volunteers, visited children over ZOOM and telephone, introduced teletherapy for our children in our CAC, developed virtual Life skills and Campus Crawl Boxes for our WINGS and N.E.S.T. children, conducted hundreds of forensic interviews on-site under strict socially distanced protocols in our CAC and just this past week hosted our first virtual fundraising event, the Summer Soiree which was supported by hundreds of loyal donors and supporters. I am so proud of our volunteers and staff who have risen to the occasion to ensure that children did not fall through the cracks. Our children need the services of Child Advocates of Fort Bend now more than ever as the school year begins in multiple formats. The children we serve are particularly vulnerable and in addition to everything they have experienced over the past six months, they will now be faced with making up achievement gaps that they have likely suffered due to remote learning and the “digital divide” as well as emotional setbacks due to trauma surrounding uncertainty, instability, health concerns and civic unrest. For the average child, it is estimated that COVID-19 will result in a loss of 3-4 months of academic slide, but for Hispanic and African American children this number rises to 9-10 months, and for low-income children it is an astounding loss of one year (McKinsey and Company). This is the population of children we serve where 80% of our children are either African American, Hispanic, or Multi-Racial and the majority are low income. The role that you play is vital and can be lifesaving for these children. You can make the difference between a child who succeeds and a child who falls behind, drops out, or loses hope. The theme for our Summer Soiree captures what you do every day “Transform Lives”. Thank you for being there every day for these children so they have a steady boat in these uncertain waters.
For the Children’s Sake,
CEO, Child Advocates of Fort Bend
Southern Ice Cream
Over the last few years, Southern Ice Cream has developed a relationship with Child Advocates of Fort Bend and annually donated a portion of their proceeds from their pushcart catering sales. Each time you book an ice cream pushcart party with them, you are helping contribute to the lives of many children in dire need. “Southern Ice Cream understands it is important to bring awareness and support to CAFB and we recognize that we need to work together to have a positive impact on the children in our community. Ice cream has a way of bringing out happiness in children and can be very comforting in the most troubling times so it was a natural fit for Southern Ice Cream to help support CAFB and contribute our sweet ice cream treats to their numerous events throughout the year in hopes of spreading a little bit of joy,” stated co-owner Bobby Barton.
“As a local woman-owned business, we were excited to hear about CAFB Wings Program which helps the graduating teens develop necessary life skills and learn what the outside world has to offer! Southern Ice Cream hosts these youth annually to visit and tour our facility, so they can learn what kind of jobs we offer as well as what it takes to be an entrepreneur,” added co-owner Michelle Barton.
Southern Ice Cream is an ice cream distribution company, servicing wholesale products to K-12 cafeterias, restaurants and parlors, special event catering and numerous other niche ice cream providers. They are open to the public, M-F 8-3p and Saturday’s 8-1p and sell the largest variety of your childhood ice cream truck favorites, such as ninja turtle face, bomb pops, snow cones and ice cream sandwiches. Southern Ice Cream provides a fun experience and a unique variety that cannot be found anywhere else!
Their ice cream catering delivers the party to you in which you can choose from several options like an ice cream truck party, ice cream pushcart party and ice cream sundae party. When you book these services, you bring smiles to your guests as well as help support CAFB! These are great for customer and employee appreciations, religious events and any special celebration. Since COVID-19, the number of large gatherings has slowed down, but they are still booking pushcarts with pre-packaged items to treat essential employees, tenant appreciations and as an after-church grab-n-go option that is COVID-19 friendly.
Another way that they have altered their services to accommodate the large number of people staying home, is their party kits delivered right to your door! Choose from 3 options: a sundae party kit, a novelty variety pack and a wine infused Social Ice variety pack. Yes, it’s a real wine popsicle, so you must be 21 or over to accept delivery. These are a great way to say thank you or send some love to teachers, grandparents or that dedicated co-worker!
“We love what we do and know that ice cream can bring joy to people in times of darkness and uncertainty. Our support to CAFB is only a piece of what these children really need, so it is important to work together as a community to support and spread happiness to each other,” stated Barton.
Specialty License Plates
Did you know that CAFB participates in the TX CASA Specialty License Plate Program? You can order a custom license plate for your car with the phrase “Big Voices for Little Texans”. For ordering information, go to https://www.txdmv.gov/motorists/license-plates/specialty-license-plates/ or visit your local tax assessor’s office and ask for the Court Appointed Special Advocate license plate.
Pssstttt….let’s take a tour at Child Advocates of Fort Bend!
In this unprecedented time, children need us more than ever. We know that in times of stress and crisis and with children being socially isolated and not in school, the incidence of abuse has increased. Because they need us…we need YOU.
Please help us share the mission of Child Advocates of Fort Bend by becoming an Ambassador and hosting a Voices For Children “Behind the Scenes” Tour via ZOOM. You and your guests can sit on the couch, patio or in your most comfortable spot (in your most comfortable clothes!) and take a walk through our agency, hear stories and statistics, and most importantly gain awareness about the work of Child Advocates of Fort Bend. Call your family, friends, colleagues; your book club, your bible study group, your happy hour crowd – near and far – and set a date!
Contact Dana Mersiovsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 281.344.7253 to schedule or learn more.
Our Children’s Advocacy Center and CASA team have been hard at work.
Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC)
Our Forensic Interviewers conducted more than 100 interviews in August, and we expect that number to increase exponentially over the coming weeks, since children have returned to school. Although our three new therapists – Amna, Kandece and Nicole finished their training and are already hard at work, we continue to have a waitlist for therapy services. Thanks to generous donors in our Capital Campaign, we received funding for a third play therapy room. Our therapists have been busy ordering supplies and getting the new room ready and will begin using it for play therapy in the coming days. Our Therapists continue to share helpful information for families every month in their Therapist’s Corner Blog posts. This month, Therapist Elena Petre talks about Emotional Validation. Validating your child or teen’s emotions does not have to mean you agree. Learn more and find out how to provide emotional validation without endorsing or condoning a behavior that you think is problematic.
We are eager to welcome 11 newly trained CAC volunteers to our caring volunteer team in our Children’s Advocacy Center where they will make a huge difference for the children and families we serve.
NEST Back to School Activity Kits
Court Appointed Special Advocates Program (CASA)
Courtesy CASA Lolita Robles has maintained contact with children placed out of county virtually since March but began visiting children in person on September 1st and is eager to interact with them again in person. Our Collaborative Family Engagement Team (CFE) has been extremely busy teaching staff and partners how to best use the CFE tools so we can incorporate them in all of our cases to ensure the best outcomes for the children we serve.
The Infant & Toddler team has had a lot of cases come in this summer. They have been juggling new cases while working with families and foster families on co-parenting. Infant & Toddler Team members recently attended the Zero-to-Three Conference (via ZOOM) and will work with families to share what they have learned.
Our WINGS and N.E.S.T. Teams just wrapped up their summer programs. (Read more about the WINGS program below.) Fifteen youth who participated in the WINGS in a Box summer program. Each received four boxes focusing on career readiness, financial literacy, housing, and college readiness. The youth received incentives for the number of boxes they completed. Several youth rose to the occasion and participated in mock job interviews after completing the career readiness boxes. Nineteen children participated in the N.E.S.T. Back to School workshop. They received N.E.S.T. activity toolkits focusing on health and hygiene, social development, and education. Five of the nineteen children also participated in the ZOOM component of the program and will be receiving their incentive baskets this week.
To ensure that all youth transitioning out of care achieve their potential, National CASA has launched Fostering Futures, a multi-year initiative to strengthen our services to more youth preparing to age out of foster care and ensure that foster care alumni have the support that they need to thrive as adults. We are holding a 4-part ZOOM training to learn about Fostering Futures and working with our youth. Sessions will be held September 1,3,8 and 10 from 10am until noon. REGISTER to join us.
WINGS Summer Program UPDATE
The WINGS Program just finished up its “long-distanced” Summer Program! Each participating youth (ages 14+) received a series of WINGS Boxes by mail. Each box had a specific topic (Career Readiness, Financial Literacy, Housing and Education) and included activities to help build and scaffold life skills around each topic as well as incorporate Trust Based Relational Intervention activities and Collaborative Family Engagement components. We are so proud of all the youth who completed the activities. We received great feedback from youth, caregivers and RTC placements. We want to thank our CASA Volunteers for supporting their CASA youth as they completed their activities. We appreciate the added guidance you provided to help make them successful and to feel proud of themselves for what they accomplished. We would also like to send a huge thank you to two of our very loyal supporters, Kurt Kirchof and Dexter McCoy, for conducting mock interviews via ZOOM for participating youth. Each mock interview they conducted gave our WINGS youth great practice and even better feedback. Thank you so much, Kurt and Dexter, for taking the time to work with our WINGS youth, build their confidence and give them valuable experience they’ll be able to carry with them as they look toward the future. While we certainly missed being able to host our summer programming in-person, we are happy to have been able to connect with our youth in a meaningful way despite all of the challenges brought on by the current environment.
Our Community Engagement team has had a busy summer. Eleven new Children’s Advocacy Center volunteers were trained in August and we expect another 35 – 40 CASA volunteers to participate in our CASA Volunteer training beginning September 15th. Tuesdays at 2pm was on hiatus during August while we focused on our training series for educators, which had one hundred and six participants representing several school districts. Teachers and educators learned how to Identify Trauma for Children, Recognize and Respond to Abuse and learned about the connection principle of Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), which is a model that is designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. Participants learned some techniques that they can use to connect with children in their classroom or a virtual learning environment. Three more speaking engagements are scheduled for private schools and day care centers over the next few weeks.
What an evening we had! I hope you were able to participate with us during our LIVE show.
Thank you to all of you who donated, purchased, shared, delivered items or just supported us as we planned and executed this first-time event. Due to COVID-19 we had to pivot all planning to accommodate the new protocols we are all living in. You all were amazing in your continued support and patience as we navigated new ways to honor, entertain and fundraise for the kids. The school year has begun but isolation and social distancing are ongoing. We anticipate that when all children return to school, we will see the demand for all our services increase by double-digits. As it is, demand for our services has grown by 53% over the past 5 years with no indications of slowing. Your financial support is CRITICAL to funding our programs and services. Thank you for having a big heart for small children.
If you weren’t able to join us on the 22nd but would like to watch the program, make a donation OR join our VOICES FOR CHILDREN Circle go to https://www.cafb.org/events/gala/.
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 participating charities and schools the opportunity to generate contributions for their organization through the Houston Open. The primary goal of the Birdies For Charity® program is to successfully solicit and collect pledges of one (1) cent or more from the General Public and/or Corporate Donors for every ‘Birdie’ made by the PGA TOUR players during the Houston Open, November 2-8, 2020. One-time donations may be made as well. The minimum for a one-time donation is $20. The Houston Open administers the program, invoices all donors and turns over 100% of all funds collected to each designated organization.
Pledge Solicitation Example:
Each participating charity can solicit pledges from individuals and/or corporations. The following example shows how the value of a single pledge is calculated and how the value of cumulative pledges for a participating charity is determined:
- Individual Pledge – $.01 per birdie x 1,500 birdies = $15 pledge
- Corporate Pledge – $1.00 per birdie x 1,500 birdies = $1,500 pledge
For those individuals making pledges and one-time donations, they will be entered into the “Guess the Birdie” Contest. The winner that guesses the correct number of birdies made at the 2020 Houston Open will receive a Suite Night at a 2021 Astros game.
Mark your calendar!
Volunteer Training to become a CASA Volunteer – Starts September 15