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Texas Bar Foundation is Making a Big Impact Toward Justice for Youth
Fort Bend County
   
 
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With a mission that includes enhancing the rule of law and system of justice in Texas, especially for programs that relate to the administration of justice for the underserved, the Texas Bar Foundation awarded Child Advocates of Fort Bend (CAFB) a grant to support its work in court advocacy for children and youth met with child abuse or neglect.

 

CAFB provides court advocacy for child victims in sex abuse and criminal cases and is the Guardian ad Litem appointed by the court in civil cases to advocate the best interest for children residing in foster care. CAFB has a staff of two Criminal Court Advocates for sex abuse cases and relies on hundreds of community volunteers to serve as court-appointed advocates (CASA Advocates) to fulfill this charge in family court and is one of the largest services we provide.

 

“Child victims of abuse often have the quietest voices and families are met with a lot of shame and uncertainty around the abuse and what happens next,” said Ruthanne Mefford, CEO of Child Advocates of Fort Bend. “In our mission, court advocacy helps strengthen the voice of the child. We emotionally support youth in age-appropriate court orientation, knowing what to expect in the courtroom and testifying and serving as a liaison between the District Attorney’s office as trials progress for the duration of a case, however long. This is often a difficult journey for the child and can re-trigger their trauma when they must face their abuser sometimes after many months or years since their forensic interview. Our CASAs are justice warriors in civil cases for children in foster care who need someone advocating for their safety, wellbeing and permanency needs,” she added.

 

CAFB started services in 1991 with the support of a civil court judge and a few local volunteers who saw a need to advocate for children removed from their homes and placed in foster care and left with little support systems besides Child Protective Service. The agency’s advocacy has evolved to include services by age group including participating in Infant and Toddler court advocacy to help our youngest cohort (children ages birth to 5 years) with expedited placement into safe, permanent homes whether with relatives, through adoption or reunification through family-building services. We added Criminal Court Advocate staff to support children called to attend hearings and testify in criminal trials. Today, as more trials resume and are expedited through virtual hearings, CAFB is focused on enhancing training for therapy staff and volunteers in how to prepare for court and testifying. The Texas Bar Foundation’s support is critical to help ensure that all our court advocacy services can continue for child victims of abuse.

 

About the Texas Bar Foundation:

Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $24 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably funded bar foundation

 

About Child Advocates of Fort Bend:

Child Advocates of Fort Bend is a non-profit agency dedicated to ending child abuse by Strengthening the Voice of the Child, Healing the Hurt, and Breaking the Cycle of abuse and neglect for children and their families in Fort Bend and surrounding counties. 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 more than 400 children each month and has served more than 20,500 children since opening its doors in 1991.

 

The agency’s 31st Annual Christmas Home Tour which supports its programs for children is set for December 9 + 10, 2022. Sponsorships of $100 - $10,000 are now available. For more information about the Tour or to sponsor go to https://www.cafb.org/events/home-tour-2/ or contact Tarina Sheridan at tsheridan@cafb.org.

 

For more information on how you can get involved with Child Advocates of Fort Bend, contact Volunteer Services at 281-344-5123 or jbrown@cafb.org or log onto www.cafb.org.

 

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