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Child Advocates of Fort Bend Launches For The Children’s Sake Capital Campaign
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<b>       Breaking ground on Child Advocates of Fort Bend’s new Davis George Campus are Capital Campaign Chair Nancy Olson, B
Breaking ground on Child Advocates of Fort Bend’s new Davis George Campus are Capital Campaign Chair Nancy Olson, B






Child Advocates of Fort Bend (CAFB) has launched an $8 million capital campaign to completely remodel and expand its building. CAFB has experienced 53% growth in the past 5 years in the number of children who have been abused or neglected receiving services. The first step after a child discloses abuse is the opportunity to tell their story in a safe place. At CAFB, a team of highly-trained forensic interviewers conduct 1,500 – 2,000 interviews of children annually and coordinate a joint investigation with a team of professionals including Children’s Protective Services (CPS) and Law Enforcement. Following an interview, children receive a variety of services including medical exams, therapy and case management. With this huge influx, many children have been forced to wait six to eight weeks to receive the services they desperately need for healing, including therapy. “We have been challenged by this increase in children and after careful consideration, we are responding with the largest initiative in our history – the remodel and expansion of our building and creation of a new 10,000 square foot Children’s Advocacy Center with double the space, an expanded CASA Wing and new Training and Volunteer Learning center.

 

“The increase in growth is attributable to several factors,” stated Child Advocates of Fort Bend CEO Ruthanne Mefford. “Fort Bend is one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S. It is estimated that one in 4 girls and one is six boys has been sexually abused by the age of 18 so with an increase in population, you would expect to have more children being impacted. Other contributing factors include social media and online solicitation of children, the fact that the greater Houston area is the top area in the nation for sex trafficking of minors and the “Me Too” movement which is giving children the courage to speak up. CAFB launched its most aggressive public awareness campaign in 2018 and reached more than 17,000 students and 1,000 educators. As a result, more children are coming forward and disclosing. Finally, State Bill 1806 which passed in 2018 requires that all children who have made an outcry of abuse must be referred for services at an accredited Children’s Advocacy Center and CAFB is the only such center in Fort Bend County. The combination of all of these factors has resulted in a dramatic uptick in the number of children we are seeing and is causing a strain on our ability to deliver services, which is why we decided to launch the campaign.”

 

The new campus will include 9,000 additional square feet to double the space needed for forensic interview rooms and therapy rooms. It will completely renovate its current 18,000 sq. feet and provide room for 25 additional staff members and many more volunteer advocates. The project architect is Gensler and Forney Construction is building the project. The Project Manager is Darrell Roth of RMG.

 

“We are here so that no child falls through the cracks in Fort Bend County,” said Mefford. “This newly remodeled and expanded building will double the number of children we can serve over the next five years to over 5,000 children annually.”

 

To fund construction and expanded operations, CAFB launched a Capital Campaign called For The Children’s Sake chaired by Nancy Olson with counsel from Dini Spheris. To date, CAFB has raised $6.9 million toward the campaign’s goal of $8 million. 100% of its Board of Directors and 100% of staff have made a financial commitment. In late 2018, The George Foundation quietly kicked off the campaign with a $2 million grant commitment. Additional generous supporters include Houston Endowment, Fred and Mabel R. Parks Foundation, BGE, Madison Charitable Foundation, Inc., Sprint Waste, OCuSOFT and Gulf Coast Medical Foundation.

 

“We need the community to step up now more than ever. While we have had some very significant gifts, every dollar counts,” said Olson. “We are all collectively trying to reach this goal and this new facility and the expansion of our services will only make our entire community stronger.” Naming opportunities for rooms, building wings and outdoor spaces are available. For more information about the campaign or how you can make a gift, please contact Jessica Jubin, Development Officer & Campaign Manager jjubin@cafb.org (281) 344-5136.

 

About Child Advocates of Fort Bend:

Child Advocates of Fort Bend is a non-profit agency dedicated to ending child abuse by providing a voice, healing the hurt, and breaking the cycle of child abuse in Fort Bend County. Through its Court Appointed Special Advocates Program (CASATM), Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) and more than 200 trained community volunteer advocates, Child Advocates improves the lives of over 400 children each month and has served 16,565+ children since opening its doors in 1991. Volunteers are needed to help in the agency’s Children’s Advocacy Center, in the Court Appointed Special Advocates Program and for community outreach and events.

For more information on how individuals can become a Voice for Children Ambassador and get involved with Child Advocates of Fort Bend, contact Dana Mersiovsky for an introductory tour at   281-344-5106 or dmersiovsky@cafb.org or log onto www.cafb.org.

 

Photo courtesy of Mary Favre.

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