5 New CASA Advocates

New CASA Vol Fall 2017 (2)CASA advocates for children in foster care. The Honorable Judge Lauri Blake of the 336th District Court administered the oath to the new volunteers. New child advocates include Jarrett Tucker, Danny Loyd, Jennifer Smith, Ray McGovern and Kathy McGovern.

“We are delighted to welcome this group of advocates to our team,” said Sandy Barber with the Fannin County Children’s Center, which includes the local CASA program.

In the year ending August 31, 2017, CASA served 118 children, which was a 42% increase over the previous year. In that same year, the number of court hearings CASA attended increased 74% and the number of active volunteers increased 68%.

All volunteers completed an intensive training class which prepares them to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for children who have been removed from their home due to abuse and neglect. The district judge appoints CASA volunteers to serve as the Guardian ad Litem for each child who has been placed in the state’s custody. In that role, CASA advocates investigate the child’s situation, prepare written reports to the court and advocate for the child’s best interest in court hearings and other settings.

CASA is one program of several programs for abused and neglected children that are operated by the Fannin County Children’s Center. For more information on becoming a CASA, click here.

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Serving up Justice for Kids

2017 JIS invite jpegTickets and tables are on sale now for the 13th annual “Justice Is Served” to benefit the Fannin County Children’s Center. Proceeds from the dinner and auction will benefit the local nonprofit agency, which includes CASA, Children’s Advocacy Centers and child abuse prevention programs. Doors to the Multi-Purpose Complex in Bonham will open at 6:00 pm on Saturday, Nov 11.

This year’s theme is “An American Saturday Night.” Guests are encouraged to dress up for an elegant evening out and wear patriotic colors, as the event is on Veteran’s Day. A buffet dinner prepared by Feast on This will be served up by local judges, police chiefs, prosecutors, lawmakers and other justice officials.

Guests will enjoy a live jazz band while bidding on numerous items in the silent and live auctions. Jason Garner Custom Welding has donated a gift certificate for a custom built gate for the auction and Rancho Condarco has donated a children’s birthday party with pony rides and a petting zoo. FC Dallas contributed 4 tickets to a home soccer game to the auction. A preview list of auction items is posted on the center’s website and being updated regularly.

Proceeds from the event will help sustain a wide variety of programs and services for children. CASA provides abused children a caring, concerned, trained volunteer to advocate for them while they are in foster care. The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) provides a safe, child-friendly location to go to when abuse is suspected. The CAC provides counseling, information, referrals and other support services to aide the healing process. New to the CAC is the courthouse facility dog named Render, who enhances the services provided by the CAC professionals.

Platinum sponsors of the event are Kwik Chek and McCraw Oil. Gold sponsors include B&B Service Center/ Driver’s Choice, Bonham Chrysler, Fannin Bank, Glaser Family Charitable Foundation, Henry and Elizabeth Donaghey Foundation, Erin Holt, LPC, Texas Farm Bureau Insurance and TMC Bonham Hospital. Individual, open seating tickets are $35 in advance and are available at the Children’s Center and from board members. Reserved table sponsorships are also still available for two, four or eight people.

More information

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Render the Courthouse Facility Dog

Render is a courthouse facility dog at the Fannin County Children’s Center.  In this photo he is wearing a crown made by a child who came to the center for a meeting with her advocate and attorney.

Render is a courthouse facility dog at the Fannin County Children’s Center. In this photo he is wearing a crown made by a child who came to the center for a meeting with her advocate and attorney.

The Fannin County Children’s Center has a new staff member with four legs. His name is Render and he is a courthouse facility dog. Render is two years old and a mix of Labrador and Golden Retriever.

Render is a professionally trained facility dog who works with children. He is a gift to the Children’s Center from Canine Companions for Independence. He knows more than forty commands and has been prepared his whole life for his special job. He provides comfort and courage to children by laying quietly at their feet while testifying in court or next to them during forensic interviews and counseling sessions.

CAC Program Specialist Mandi Bruso is Render’s primary handler and who he lives with. CAC Program Director Kassi Lightfoot is also a trained handler. Bruso and Lighfoot completed two weeks of intensive training this summer to learn how to handle Render.
Last month, representatives from Courthouse Dogs Foundation came to Bonham to train all of the judges, attorneys, CAC multidisciplinary team member, CASA volunteers and Children’s Center staff who will be working with Render. Local donations from individuals covered the costs for this special training, as well as for food and supplies for Render. Local veterinarian Dr. Eve Germone has graciously donated her services for Render’s medical check-ups. Local photographer Kassie Rogers donated her services to take professional photos of Render. One of the photos she took now graces the cover of Render’s cards that resemble a baseball card.

Staff and others have already seen what a difference Render can make with children. Over and over again staff have observed children and teenagers who come to the center anxious, reserved, upset or even angry and then become calmer and more talkative once they meet Render.

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McCraw Oil and Kwik Chek Golf Tournament

 Kwik Chek and McCraw Oil raised $52,000 for CASA programs at a charity fishing and golfing tournament at Tanglewood Resorts. (from left) Bill Wilson, Sandy Barber, Kevin Smartt, Sherry Capehart, Kara Hobbs and Doyce Taylor.

Kwik Chek and McCraw Oil raised $52,000 for CASA programs at a charity fishing and golfing tournament at Tanglewood Resorts. (from left) Bill Wilson, Sandy Barber, Kevin Smartt, Sherry Capehart, Kara Hobbs and Doyce Taylor.

For 22 years, McCraw Oil and Kwik Chek have been hosting an annual charity golf tournament. For the last 10 years, CASA has been the beneficiary of the event. In the past decade, this event has raised more than a half million dollars to help sustain this non-profit that serves children in foster care.

This year the event raised $52,000 for CASA programs, which brings the 10 year grand total to $504,000. This year’s tournament was held at Tanglewood Resort in Pottsboro.

“It really is an honor to be able to support the CASA organization with our annual fundraising efforts,” said Smartt. “They are an organization with caring volunteers doing a great job to help represent children in very difficult circumstances. It is something that our Kwik Chek and McCraw Oil employees believe in and take pride in contributing to such an essential organization. Our goal is to continue to find new ways to help increase fundraising and awareness of CASA and what they do for the children and families in our community.”

This year’s event also included a fishing tournament the day before the golf tournament. Fishing winners were first place: Corey Esser, with Pepsi; second place: Silas Stewart with Pepsi and third place: Chad Ellis with Verifone.

First place team in the golf tournament was sponsored by Pepsi, General Mills and Crossmark and included David Staeheli, Curt Webber, Corey Esser, Silas Stewart, Lindsey Hansen and Henry McDonald. Second place team was sponsored by First United Bank and included Dennis Garrett, Brett Rogers, Bert Davison, Kyle Million, Justin Scott and John Hoefer. Third place team was sponsored by Legend Bank and Altria and included Jon Sisk, Danny Stroud, Charlie Jo Cary, Bill Yarbro, Miguel Lopez-Vergara and Keith Zack.
CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, recruits and trains volunteers to become advocates for children in foster care. When a judge determines that a child is no longer safe in their own home, CASA is assigned to gather information and make recommendations to the courts about what would be best for the child.

Tournament proceeds will be donated to local CASA program across Texas in the same communities where Kwik Chek and McCraw Oil do business. Some funds will also be given to Texas CASA, which is the state association that provides training, technical assistance and other support to local CASA programs.

“We cannot say thank you enough to everyone at Kwik Chek and McCraw Oil. Their generous vendors and hard-working, dedicated employees make this a great event every year,” said Sandy Barber, director of the Fannin County Children’s Center which is one of the local CASA programs to benefit from the event.

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Another Successful School Supply Drive

Employees from the VA in Bonham collected an enormous number of supplies this year.

Employees from the VA in Bonham collected an enormous number of supplies this year.

A total of 588 students from all over Fannin County received free school supplies to start the new school year, thanks to a generous community. This year marked the 21st year that the Fannin County Children’s Center has provided school supplies to needy children and youth. The number of students served this year was more than in the last two years.

“Once again, we are thrilled to have so much local community support – both volunteers and donors – who make this effort possible,” said Barber. “School kids from all over the county were able to start the school year prepared due to the generosity and hard work of many people.”

The Bonham VA collected an enormous number of supplies. Many other businesses, churches and individuals also donated to the effort.

The youth groups from Lannius Church of God and First Presbyterian each volunteered their time and efforts to move, sort, organize and prep supplies. Several other volunteers also made this project possible.

The mission of the Children’s Center is promoting safety and improving the lives of abused and neglected children. In addition to the annual school supply drive, the center operates CASA, Children’s Advocacy Center and child abuse prevention programs.

Volunteers from First Presbyterian Church of Bonham helped move, sort and organize supplies.

Volunteers from First Presbyterian Church of Bonham helped move, sort and organize suppliescc.org.

Volunteers from Lannius Church of God helped prepare lots of bags of school supplies!

Volunteers from Lannius Church of God helped prepare lots of bags of school supplies!

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Employment Opportunity

 

help wanted 3Fannin County Children’s Center is seeking part time mental health professional to provide crisis counseling, as well as individual, group and family therapy for victims of physical and sexual abuse.  Candidates must be licensed in Texas and can be LPC, LPC-Intern, LCSW or LMFT.

Prefer experience and training in working with trauma, especially child abuse victims.  Excellent verbal & written communication skills are needed. Ability to work well with children, families and other professionals as part of a multi-disciplinary team.  We are seeking a dedicated, dependable, organized and flexible team player.  Must have clear background checks.  Flexible scheduling options. Prefer ability to work in evenings.  Must adhere to Code of Ethics and maintain confidentiality. Must be computer proficient and able to administer and score assessments. Must be willing to testify in court.  Prefer experience in play therapy. Must have TF-CBT training or able to complete.  All costs of license renewal and other professional memberships are the responsibility of employee.

Submit resume and application (link below) to kassi@fanninccc.org.

Employment Application

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CASA Needs Volunteers

CASA volunteers are needed to be advocates for children in foster care. At last check, two children in foster care from Fannin County do not have a CASA volunteer advocate. CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. When home is no longer a safe place for a child, a judge may order a child to be removed from their home and assign CASA to be the volunteer advocate for the child.

The local CASA program in Fannin County has been seeing tremendous growth in the number of children in foster care. In the past, an average year for CASA was to serve 60-80 children. In the current fiscal year, they have already served 117 children in just 11 months. Currently only two children in foster care do not have a volunteer advocate, in large part because many volunteers have agreed to accept a second or third case. CASA volunteers usually only work one case at a time.

Once a volunteer advocate completes training and accepts a case, they will visit the child regularly. They will also talk with parents, other family, teachers, doctors, therapists, caseworkers, attorneys, foster parents and any others involved in their child’s life. Advocates prepare written reports for the court and attend all court hearings in order to make recommendations to the judge about what is in the best interest of the child. Volunteers advocate for all of the child’s educational, medical, mental health and other needs to be met and to help them find a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible.

The next training class is set to begin on Sept 12. Training classes are held in the evenings and many people who work full-time manage to be a CASA advocate. Applications and interviews must be completed before training starts.

More information and volunteer applications are available here

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School Supply Drive

It will soon be back to school time. Bonham ISD students will head back to class first in Fannin County on Aug 16. Many other school districts in Fannin County will start on Aug 21. For the staff and volunteers at the Fannin County Children’s Center, back-to-school time starts now as they make preparations for their 21st annual School Supply Drive.

This school drive is open to all needy kids in Fannin County. Families in need can come to the Children’s Center at 112 W. 5th in Bonham on August 14 or 15 from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon or 2:00 to 5:00 pm to sign up and receive supplies. Parents or other caregivers should bring the child’s social security card and some proof of need, such as Medicaid card, food stamps or paycheck stub.

In order to have supplies to give away, the Children’s Center is once again seeking donations.

“As always, every contribution is appreciated and needed” said Sandy Barber, Executive Director of the Children’s Center. The center is now accepting paper, notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons and other school supplies on the local school supply lists. Barber said, “Donors can also donate cash and leave the shopping to us. We will use it to buy what is most needed and we will stretch the donation farther by using our tax-exempt status when making the purchases.”

In all, the agency has given out free school supplies to more than 9,200 students in the last twenty years. Organizers expect to serve 500-750 students again this year. This effort depends on contributions from many different individuals, churches, businesses and other local organizations.

Items needed include: notebook paper, pens, pencils, three-ring notebooks, folders with & without brads, spiral notebooks, rulers, scissors, markers, crayons, red pens and pencils, highlighters, glue sticks and bottles, erasers, backpacks, construction paper, manilla paper, pencil boxes and bags and other supplies from area lists.

Contributions can be mailed or brought to the center at 112 West Fifth Street, Bonham, TX. Checks can be made out to FCCC and should include a brief notation that the gift is for school supplies. Donations can also be made on-line at School Supply Drive. All donations are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law. Organizers request that contributions arrive by August 7 or earlier if at all possible to allow time for organization and preparations. For more information, go to School Supply Drive.

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Volunteer Info Session

volunteer handsOn Tuesday, July 25, there will be a come and go information session about volunteer opportunities at the Children’s Center from 5:30 – 7:00 pm. Any adults interested in volunteering at the Children’s Center can come and get a tour of the center and talk to staff about the various roles volunteers fill at the center. CASA volunteers are needed to be advocates for children in foster care. Volunteers are also need to organize the Rainbow Room, greet families who come to the Children’s Advocacy Center, prepare school supplies for distribution and more.

At last check, 5 children in foster care from Fannin County do not have a CASA volunteer advocate.   CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates.  When home is no longer a safe place for a child, a judge may order a child to be removed from their home and assign CASA to be the volunteer advocate for the child.

Once a volunteer advocate accepts a case, they will visit the child regularly.  They will also talk with parents, other family, teachers, doctors, therapists, caseworkers, attorneys, foster parents and any others involved in their child’s life.  Advocates prepare written reports for the court and attend all court hearings in order to make recommendations to the judge about what is in the best interest of the child.  Volunteers advocate for all of the child’s educational, medical, mental health and other needs to be met and to help them find a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible.

Volunteers are also needed to greet and sit with families who come to the Children’s Advocacy Center for forensic interviews or counseling.  At times, volunteers will need to briefly supervise the children while the parents meet privately with CAC professionals.

Volunteers are also needed at the center to sort and organize donations of new clothing, shoes, diapers and other items in the Rainbow Room and in preparation of the center’s annual School Supply Drive.

While attending the volunteer information session on July 25 is strongly encouraged, it is not a requirement to become a volunteer at the Children’s Center.

More about becoming a CASA volunteer or call Sandy Hood at 903-583-4339.

More about other Volunteer Opportunities or call Andrea Rencher at 903-583-4339.

 

 

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Free Summer Classes

The Fannin County Children’s Center has scheduled several free classes for this summer, plus an information session.

On Tuesday, July 25, there will be a come and go information session about volunteer opportunities at the Children’s Center from 5:30 – 7:00 pm. Any adults interested in volunteering at the Children’s Center can come and get a tour of the center and talk to staff about the various roles volunteers fill at the center. CASA volunteers are needed to be advocates for children in foster care. Volunteers are also need to organize the Rainbow Room, greet families who come to the Children’s Advocacy Center, prepare school supplies for distribution and more.

Several free training classes are available this summer at the center for adults to learn how to prevent, recognize and report child abuse. The classes are designed for parents, teachers, other school personnel, day care workers, coaches, Sunday School teachers and other professionals and volunteers who work with children.

“Stewards of Children” is a 2 hour class that utilities video, workbooks and class discussion to teach adults how to prevent, recognize and report child sexual abuse. The video includes personal stories from survivors of sexual abuse and education from professionals in the child abuse field. This class will be offered on two different days in the summer: June 27 and August 29. Each class will be from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.

“Recognizing & Reporting” is a 1.5 hour class that utilizes video, class discussion and case studies. Learning objectives include: the realities of child abuse, detailing who becomes victims, who the likely perpetrators are and the prevalence of abuse in all communities, the legal definitions, signs and symptoms of child abuse, how to communicate with a child who makes a disclosure of abuse, how to make a report and how to overcome one’s fear’s and barriers around reporting. Class options include July 18 or September 5. Each class will be from 5:30 – 7:00 pm.

All classes will be held at the Children’s Center at 112 West Fifth Street in Bonham. All participants who successfully complete the class will receive a certificate. There is no charge for the classes, thanks to generous support from local donors. Seating is limited.
The Fannin County Children’s Center is a private, non-profit organization. It’s mission is promoting safety and improving the lives of abused and neglected children. Programs include CASA, Children’s Advocacy Center and child abuse prevention efforts.

Learn more about becoming a CASA
Learn more about other volunteer opportunities
Register for a prevention class

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