“Under ordinary circumstances, a decline in reports of child abuse might mean that we are making progress in the fight against child abuse,” stated Child Advocates of Fort Bend CEO Ruthanne Mefford. “However, these are extraordinary times. Our fear is that children are suffering, they have no one to tell if they are being abused and there is no one to see the signs of abuse and make a report. Physical distancing mandates have kept children out of school since March, the school year is now over and teachers, who are the main reporters of child abuse, don’t have eyes on kids and aren’t making reports,” she continued. Child Advocates of Fort Bend (CAFB) has seen a 76% decline in state reports of child abuse this year over last.
“Research from past crises shows that critical community issues such as child abuse and domestic violence will be on the rise during and after the crisis. In fact, our Children’s Advocacy Center forensic interviewers and Clinical Family Advocates have seen several extremely severe cases of abuse recently. Overall, the abuse that we are seeing is more severe than in the past and we are seeing increases in child abuse co-occurring with domestic violence,” stated Mefford. “We anticipate that when children return to school in the Fall, we will see a dramatic surge in reports. We are equipped for the surge and spike in need for our services, however, we are concerned that children are suffering. We fear that they are not speaking up and that they will endure abuse for several more months until school starts again. For this reason, we are asking the community to keep an eye on the children in their lives and in their neighborhoods and report any suspicions of abuse immediately to the Texas Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400. Your report might save a child’s life,” said Mefford.
Child Advocates of Fort Bend (CAFB) has experienced steady growth in the past 4 years in the number of children who have been abused or neglected receiving services. As a result, the agency recently renovated and expanded its building, doubling its capacity to provide services to thousands more children.
During this time, the agency has increased its outreach efforts and is using social media to bring awareness. The public is encouraged to tune into the agency’s Facebook page Tuesdays at 2 where staff share online tips and support for families and other information and will be on Facebook Live to chat and answer your questions. In addition, CAFB therapists are offering coping tips for children and families on their Therapist’s Corner blog at www.cafb.org.
“Because physical distancing mandates have forced us to cancel and reschedule several fundraising events which raise significant dollars to fund our programs, we are now facing both an increase in need and a shortage of funding. As a result, we’ve combined our Gala and fundraising breakfast into a single event and moved it to our campus to save costs and allow for physical distancing. The Transforming Lives Summer Soiree will take place on Saturday, August 22nd. Presenting Sponsors for the event are Exchange Club of Sugar Land, OCuSOFT, Inc. and Sewell Audi Sugar Land. To sponsor the Soiree or for reservations or details go to www.cafb.org or contact Lisa Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 of Fort Bend improves the lives of more than 400 children each month and has served more than 17,0000 children since opening its doors in 1991. For more information on Child Advocates of Fort Bend go to www.cafb.org.