5 New CASA Advocates!

CASA Vol Spring 2019Five local people recently completed training and were sworn-in to become volunteer 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 Ashlyn Hoops, Jackie Schrodel, Rosemary Clemons, Susan Mattison and Richard Mattison.

“We excited to welcome these people to our team,” said Sandy Barber with the Fannin County Children’s Center, which includes the local CASA program. “This helps get us closer to having an advocate for every child in foster care from Fannin County.”

In the year ending August 31, 2018, CASA served 131 children, which set a new record for the number of children served in a year. More volunteers advocates are still needed in order for every child in foster care from Fannin County to have one. Another training class is already being planned for June.

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. More info

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Child Abuse Awareness Month

April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. The Fannin County Children’s Center has several activities planned for this month.

April 5 is Go Blue Day in Texas. It is a day to wear blue in honor and memory of child abuse victims. The Children’s Center encourages schools, businesses, other organizations and individuals to wear blue, snap photos, post them on social media and share them with the center too. Photos can be sent to sandy@fanninccc.org or the Children’s Center can be tagged in posts. Suggested hashtags for the day include #GoBlueDay and #NoExcuseForChildAbuse.

On April 9, the Fannin County Commissioners are scheduled to pass a proclamation at their regular weekly meeting, declaring April to be Child Abuse Awareness month for Fannin County.

The Children’s Center will be offering free education classes in April too. On April 11, the “Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse” class will be held from 5:30 – 7:00 pm at the center. As the class name implies, this class will teach adults how to spot signs of all types of child abuse and how to respond appropriately. On April 25, the “Stewards of Children” class will be held from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at the center. This class will teach adults proactive steps to take to prevent child sexual abuse. Both classes are free and require reservations. More information about the classes and reservations can be made at www.fanninccc.org. Both classes will be held at the center at 112 W 5th in Bonham.

April 28 is Blue Sunday. This is a day when faith communities across the nation will say prayers for children who have been abused and neglected as well as for the professionals and volunteers who are working to stop abuse and help victims recover.

The Children’s Center encourages local schools, businesses and other organizations to post the slogan “No Excuse for Child Abuse” on their marque signs. The Center also has yard signs and blue t-shirts for sale.

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Blue Shirts on Sale!

Go Blue Day in Texas is Friday, April 5, 2019. This is a day that people across the state of Texas will be wearing blue in honor and memory of child abuse victims.

The Fannin County Children’s Center has designed a new blue shirt for Go Blue Day and Child Abuse Awareness Month in April 2019. This year’s shirts are still in royal blue with white writing. The front design is a collections of words in the shape of the state of Texas. The words include the programs and values of the Children’s Center, as well as other words used often at the center, such as “hope,” “courage” and the center’s facility dog “Render.” The Children’s Center logo is on the back of the shirt.

Shirts can be ordered and paid for on-line at specialtsprinting.com/fannincountychildrenscenter.

Orders must be placed by March 26 in order to guarantee a 2019 design shirt in time for Go Blue Day on April 5, 2019. When ordering, there will be an option for free pick up at the Children’s Center after April 2 or pay extra to have the order shipped.

Short sleeve shirts are available in youth and adult sizes for $10 each. New this year, there will also be options for long sleeve shirts for $12 and hoodies for $20. Shirts in sizes 2XL and 3XL will be $2 more and 4XL and up will be $3 more.

A limited number of short sleeve shirts from previous years are still in stock at the center for $10 each. Please call (903) 583-4339 or stop by the center to inquire about designs and sizes of shirts available.

“On Go Blue Day, we hope to once again see lots of photos on social media with people wearing blue in support of victims of child abuse,” said Sandy Barber with the Children’s Center. “Whether they are wearing our shirts or not, we encourage schools, businesses and other organizations to wear blue and take group photos and send them to us so we can share too.”

“Statistics tell us that 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday and that many victims wait to tell,” said Barber. “When we wear blue on April 5, we will be sending a message of support to both the victims who have found the courage to tell, as well as the ones who are still silently bearing the trauma of abuse.”

The Fannin County Children’s Center’s mission is promoting safety and improving the lives of abused and neglected children. The agency’s programs include CASA, Children’s Advocacy Center and child abuse prevention classes.

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Art Contest Winners!

2019 First PlaceFourteen year old Jocelyn Garoutte of Leonard took home the top prize in the Open Your Heart Art Contest sponsored by the Fannin County Children’s Center. She won $100 for her artwork that will now be featured on the front of the Open Your Heart campaign cards. Eleven year old Kailynn Pearson of Bonham won second place and $50. Her artwork will be featured on the inside of the cards.

The winning artwork will be featured in upcoming fundraising campaign for the Children’s Center. Funds raised will support all services provided by the center, including CASA, Children’s Advocacy Center and child abuse prevention efforts. As a non-profit, the center relies on grants and donations to be able to offer their services for no cost to victims of child abuse and neglect.

CASA recruits, screens, trains and supervises volunteer advocates for children in foster care. Children’s Advocacy Center facilitates a multidisciplinary team of public and private agencies involved in the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse. Child abuse prevention efforts include classes are offered for children, youth and adults.

2019 Second Place

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Kids Art Contest

The Fannin County Children’s Center is seeking children’s artwork for their annual contest. Children and youth ages 18 and under are invited to enter their work of art for a chance to win prizes and help other children.

“Our contest judges will be looking for artwork that illustrates the theme “Open Your Heart,” said Sandy Barber, Executive Director of the Children’s Center. “They will be looking for something that is eye catching and heart-warming. Winning entries in the past have often included hearts, kids, families and bright, cheerful colors.”

Two winning entries will win special ribbons and cash prizes. The winning artwork will be reproduced on cards to help the agency raise funds to provide advocacy, counseling and other critical support services for the abused and neglected children of Fannin County.

The winning artist will receive a $100 cash, a blue ribbon and their artwork will be reproduced on the front of the campaign card. Second place will win a $50 cash, a red ribbon and have their artwork included inside of the card.

Artwork must be turned in by 5 pm on Friday, February 22 at the Children’s Center at 112 West Fifth in Bonham. An entry form must be completed and attached to the back of the artwork.

Art Contest Rules & Entry Form

more info

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Kwik Chek and McCraw Oil

Kwik Chek and McCraw Oil recently presented a check for $14,000 to their local CASA program, the Fannin County Children’s Center.  In all, leaders of Kwik Chek and McCraw Oil will be presenting checks totaling $56,000 to local CASA programs across the state where they do business.

“The McCraw Oil and Kwik Chek teams have long had a passion for supporting the health and well-being of children in the communities where we live and work,” said Bill Wilson, President of McCraw Oil.

This year marks the eleventh year in a row that the company’s annual golf tournament has benefitted CASA.  In those 11 years, a grand total of $560,000 has been raised.

“We are honored and blessed to benefit from our partnership with Kwik Chek and McCraw Oil,” said Children’s Center Executive Director Sandy Barber.  “Their gifts from the golf tournament, their sponsorship of our events and their volunteer efforts all add up to good things for some of the most vulnerable kids and families in our community.”

The Children’s Center’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.    Kwik Chek Jan 2019

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Exxon Mobil

ExxonMobil 2019











McCraw Oil President Bill Wilson (center) presents a check for $2,000 from ExxonMobil for the Children’s Center to Board President Brenda Magness (right) and Executive Director Sandy Barber (left).   “We are honored to benefit from ExxonMobil’s generosity again this year,” said Barber. “This gift will provide counseling, advocacy, forensic interviews and many other support services to help children recover from the trauma of abuse and neglect.”  The Children’s Center’s programs include CASA, Children’s Advocacy Center and child abuse prevention programs.

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Texoma Health Foundation

THF 2019 JanTexoma Health Foundation recently awarded a grant of $25,000 to the Fannin County Children’s Center to address the medical and mental health needs of abused and neglected children in Fannin County and support child abuse prevention efforts as well.

“We are honored and grateful that the Texoma Health Foundation has chosen to invest in our center, in our community and in our children for the fifth year in a row” said Children’s Center Executive Director Sandy Barber.

This year’s grant brings the five year total to $175,000 for the Children’s Center. The grant to the Children’s Center was one of many awarded by the Foundation to nonprofits in Grayson, Fannin, Bryan and Marshall Counties to further the foundation’s mission to support the health and well-being of people.

“While we certainly appreciate the financial support from the foundation, we are also grateful for how the foundation’s board and staff are always looking for ways to share their connections, leadership, information, enthusiasm and passion to making our community healthier,” said Barber. “They have been the one of the driving forces behind several efforts related to mental health, including a partnership with UTSW Center for Depression and Research and Bonham ISD to increase resilience and reduce suicide thoughts and attempts in youth and the Texoma Behavioral Health Leadership Team which is working on expanding to Fannin County.”

The Children’s Center will use the funds to ensure that each child in foster care has a trained CASA volunteer to advocate for their medical and mental health needs. In addition, the grant will support the Children’s Advocacy Center’s efforts to provide child abuse victims with access to the specialized medical and mental health treatment they need to heal. The center will also use grant funds to train children, youth and adults in how to prevent, recognize and report child abuse.

For more information about the Children’s Center, go to www.fanninccc.org and for the Texoma Health Foundation, go to www.texomahealth.org

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Volunteer Information Session

The Fannin County Children’s Center is looking for a few good men and women who are willing to volunteer to help children from hard places. There will be an informational session on Thursday, January 17. Anyone interested in volunteering is invited to come and go from 4-6 pm at the center at 112 West Fifth Street in Bonham. Staff will be available to give tours of the center, answer questions, discuss volunteer roles and describe the volunteer application process and training requirements. Attendance at the information session is NOT a requirement to become a volunteer.

CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, is one of several programs offered by the Children’s Center for the benefit of abused and neglected children. CASA is seeking adult volunteers who can complete training and pass background checks to be appointed by the 336th District Court to serve as Guardian ad Litem for children in foster care.

In that role, CASA volunteers regularly visit their assigned child or sibling group and gather information from parents, other family, teachers, medical personnel, therapists and others in order to make recommendations to the court on what will be in the child’s best interest. They prepare court reports and testify at court hearings too.

The Children’s Advocacy Center is another program of the Children’s Center. Volunteers are needed to provide child care while parents and siblings are in groups and to sit with families who are at the center for interviews or counseling. Other volunteers are needed for tasks not directly working with children, such as organizing clothes in the Rainbow Room, preparing newsletters for mailing, getting school supplies ready to give away and other office jobs.

The next training sessions for CASA volunteers will be held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30 – 9:00 pm on Feb 12, 14, 19,21, 26 and 28, as well as one Saturday, March 2 from 8:30 – 3:30 pm. Participants will gain knowledge and learn skills needed to become an advocate for abused children in foster care. Participants will also be reading and completing activities on their own time. At least 2 hours of court room observation will also be required. All who successfully complete the training will take the CASA oath in the Fannin County District Courtroom in the morning of March 8.

Applications are now being accepted for both CASA and CAC volunteers. For more information, attend the volunteer information session on January 17, call (903) 583-4339 or click here.

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Christmas All Wrapped Up!

In all, 261 children served by the Fannin County Children’s Center had presents of clothes, shoes, coats, toys and other items to open on Christmas morning, thanks to many generous donors.

“The number of children given presents was only 1 child less than last year,” said Sandy Barber, Executive Director of the Children’s Center.  “However, this still is about 100 kids more than we had been giving presents to for many years prior to 2017.  Fortunately, the Fannin County community turned out in force to make sure our kids were taken care of.  So many individuals, families, businesses, churches and other organizations gave what they could and it all added up to meet the needs.”

First National Bank of Trenton, Legend Bank, Tax Assessor Collector Office, Tractor Supply, Blessings and Butterflies, Cato’s, Warrior Tire, Bonham Smiles, Cole Title Company and WalMart put up teddy bear trees to help the center collect presents.   “Many of these locations have been doing this for as long as we can remember.  A few places were new this year too,” said Barber.  “We are so blessed by their generous and faithful support of our Christmas Drive.”

Presents of clothes, shoes, coats, toys and other items were given to the children and youth who are being served by CASA and the Children’s Advocacy Center.  Some of the children are living in foster homes, away from family and friends.  Other children have gone to live with grandparents or other relatives as a result of abuse or neglect.  Many of these families struggle financially when one or more children suddenly come to live with them.  In other families, the discovery of sexual abuse in the home has meant the loss of family income when the offender leaves.

In January, there will be a new training class for individuals interested in becoming CASA volunteers.  There will also be free classes for adults to learn how to prevent, recognize and respond to child abuse.

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