Jeep/Car Show at the Leonard Picnic

It’s time to clean up those Jeeps and old Hot Rods. Join us for the 142nd Annual Leonard Picnic Parade and the 1st Annual Jeep and Hot Rod show.

All cars, trucks, old jeeps and jeep wranglers welcome.

Entry fee is $5 per vehicle for the Car/Jeep Show.
No entry fee for the parade.

Saturday, July 17 at Leonard City Park.
Parade starts at 10 am
Show and Shine Car show starts immediately after the parade
Raffle drawings begin at 2 pm.

All proceeds will go to the Fannin County Children’s Center.

Feel free to decorate your Jeep/Car for the parade! Parade participation is completely FREE. You do not have to participate in the parade to be in the show, and vice versa.

The Leonard Picnic is a family friendly event going back 142 years! This event includes kids entertainment, live music, vendors, food trucks, 5k, game tournaments, Jeep Show and wineries. The event will end with a great fireworks show on Saturday night.

For updates and the latest information, follow the event on Facebook called “Leonard Picnic Parade, Jeep and Car Show”

Contact Matthew at

Advanced registration is now closed.

On-site registration will be available. We will accept cash, checks or cards.

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Build The Dream Kickoff Celebration

Kickoff InvitationThe community is invited to the Build The Dream Kickoff Celebration hosted by Fannin County Children’s Center on Thursday, June 24 from noon to 1 pm.  The event will take place at the future home of the Children’s Center at the corner of Lee and Albert Broadfoot Streets in Bonham.

During the strategic planning process in 2016, the center’s board and staff identified the future need to secure a new, larger facility in order to keep up with the growing needs of our community.  Over the next few years, a facility task force toured other CASA and CAC facilities, searched for available land or buildings and made several asks and offers.  In December 2019, Roy and Jan Reimer donated about 8 acres of land near the Bonham elementary and high schools.

In 2020, MJMC Architects, PLLC was hired and the planning process was in full swing.  The center also purchased a small adjacent property and Hammett Excavation graciously donated their services to tear down and remove an old, condemned house on that lot.

The center is now ready to kickoff the campaign to build the new facility.  Legend Bank, TXB and McCraw Oil will generously be providing lunch at the kickoff event.  Leaders of the Children’s Center and community will begin speaking at about 12:15 pm.  They have several exciting announcements planned.

Community members are encouraged to carpool when they can, as nearby parking space will be limited.

Read More about Building the Dream

Architect rendering of the future home of the Children's Center

Architect rendering of the future home of the Children’s Center

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Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse

April is Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month. However, preventing child abuse and being aware of the signs is something all adults should do all year long.

Child sexual abuse is not something that happens randomly. Fannin County Children’s Center’s Executive Director Sandy Barber said there are actually many things parents and other adults can do to prevent child sexual abuse.

When checking out day cares, schools, camp or other activities for your children, Barber encourages parents to ask questions. “Do they do background checks, reference checks and personal interviews with every staff and volunteer?” said Barber. “Also ask how often they train their personnel in how to recognize and report child abuse as well as what policies they have in place to protect against child sexual abuse.”

“Most importantly, ask the organization what their policy is on one-adult one-child situations,” said Barber. Organizations that eliminate or reduce to the greatest extent possible one-adult one-child situations will greatly reduce the opportunity for sexual abuse to happen.

With young children who need diapers changed or assistance going to the bathroom, Barber encourages parents to ask questions about how and where that happens at the day care or other locations. All interactions between adults and children or even older youth and young children should be observable and interruptible by others.

Parents should also begin talking to children about child sexual abuse when their children are very young. As young children learn to identify their eyes, ears, nose and other body parts, it a great time to also learn the proper names for their private parts. As the child grows, the conversations should change and grow too.

“One way to explain it,” said Barber “is that the parts of your body covered up by your bathing suit are your private parts. If anyone tries to touch you on your private parts or asks you to touch their private parts, tell them “no,” get away from them and go tell a parent or other trusted adult.”

It is also important to explain to children that the person could be a family member, close friend or even an older youth.

“There are also several books available to read to your child that will help open up a conversation about this topic,” said Barber. “Two books that we like at the Children’s Center are “It’s My Body” and “Your Body Belongs to You.” These books are simple, straight forward and inexpensive.”

Barber stressed that it is important to read the book and/or talk about this subject more than once with a child. “Think about teaching your child how to say the alphabet or count, you cannot go over it once and expect them to know it,” said Barber. “Repetition is important.”

The Children’s Center also offers two types of free classes for adults. “Recognizing and Reporting” is a 1.5 hour class that covers recognizing the signs of child abuse and the steps of how to report it. “Stewards of Children” is a 3 hour class that focuses solely on sexual abuse and covers preventing, recognizing and responding appropriately. Classes will be scheduled soon and announced one the center’s website and social media. Details and registration links will be posted on the agency website here

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Child Abuse Rates in Fannin County

Proclamation 2021The Fannin County Commissioners have declared April as Child Abuse Awareness month in Fannin County. Estimates are that one in ten children will be sexually abused before their eighteenth birthday.

In Fannin County, there were 432 alleged victims of child abuse in 2020, according to the Data Book of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. This is a 9% increase over the previous year. Commissioner Jerry Magness noted that the number of alleged victims is more than one a day for a year.

The number of confirmed victims was 117 in 2020, according to the same source. These reports only include cases that are reported to Child Protective Services. Cases involving children who are abused by someone not in their household or family will often be investigated only by law enforcement.

The Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) is one of two primary programs operated by the Fannin County Children’s Center. The CAC facilitates a multidisciplinary team involved in the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child abuse. Team members include Child Protective Services, all local law enforcement agencies and the District Attorney’s office.

The CAC received 220 new referrals from CPS and law enforcement last year. These cases primarily involve sexual abuse and serious physical abuse. In the year ending August 31, 2020, the CAC in Fannin County conducted 193 forensic interviews. These fact-finding interviews are a key part of the joint investigations conducted by CPS and law enforcement. CAC therapists provided 1,464 counseling sessions in the same year. These numbers were down only slightly compared to the previous year. The COVID-19 pandemic started in the middle of this reporting year. Services were paused briefly at the start of the pandemic and then quickly started back up with safety precautions in place. Counseling, advocacy and case coordination efforts went virtual. Forensic interviews continued in-person.

The Children’s Center’s other primary program for child abuse victims is Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). In the year ending August 31, 2020 CASA served 119 children in foster care, which was the second most ever served in a year since CASA started serving children in Fannin County in 1993. Thirty-nine active CASA volunteers logged in 3,298 hours and more than 21,000 miles in their service to advocate for the children in the custody of the state. The pandemic changed, but did not stop, CASA’s efforts. Court hearings, child visits, mediations and case meetings all switched to Zoom or other video apps as the pandemic started.

“In Texas, all adults ages 18 and up are mandated reporters of child abuse,” said Sandy Barber, Executive Director of the Children’s Center. “That means, if you suspect a child is being abused, you are obligated by law to report it. You do not have to investigate. That is the job of CPS and law enforcement. However, CPS and law enforcement cannot check into a situation if no one finds the courage to make the call.”

When making a report, be prepared to give as much information as possible, including the child’s name, age, address and school as well as details about what happened. Reports should be made as soon as possible, but no later than 48 hours.

Reports to the hotline are confidential, except in cases where a judge orders CPS to release the name of the reporter. Reports can be made anonymously. The law provides for immunity from civil or criminal liabilities for innocent persons who report even unfounded suspicions, as long as the report is made in good faith.

In Texas, the child abuse reporting hotline is 1-800-252-5400. If the situation is an emergency, call 911 for local law enforcement. Reports can also be made on-line at if the situation does not require an emergency response. For more about the Fannin County Children’s Center, go to

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Pinwheels for 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.

The Children’s Center is putting up pinwheel displays across Fannin County. Each display includes 117 blue and silver pinwheels in honor of the 117 children who were confirmed victims of child abuse last year in Fannin County. Displays can be found in Bonham, Ector, Honey Grove, Ivanhoe, Leonard, Savoy and Trenton.

On April 6, 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.

April 9 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 or the Children’s Center can be tagged in posts. Suggested hashtags for the day include #GoBlueDay and #OneWithCourage and #NoExcuseForChildAbuse.

April 25 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.




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4 New CASA Advocates

Spring 2021 (1)Four 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 Jan Woodruff, Jamie Gentry, Kristin Morgan and Lana Allred.

Because of the pandemic, this training class was entirely on-line including the swearing in ceremony, which Judge Blake conducted via Zoom. Each volunteer will be assigned a case to work after taking their oaths.

“We excited to welcome these people to our team and even more excited to report that we are very close to having an advocate for every child in foster care,” said Sandy Barber with the Fannin County Children’s Center, which includes the local CASA program.

In the year ending August 31, 2020, CASA served 119 children, which was the second most number of children in one year in the agency’s 27 year history. That same fiscal year was the busiest ever in terms of the numbers of cases worked and the number of new children coming into foster care.

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 also advocates and monitors to ensure that all educational, medical, mental health and other needs are met.

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 call (903) 583-4339 or visit

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Reception for 20 Years of Service

Barber 20th anniversary at FCCCTwenty years ago, the board of directors of the Fannin County Children’s Center hired Sandy Barber as the Executive Director.  On Monday, March 29, the board and staff will be hosting a come and go reception to honor Barber and her two decades of service to the organization.

When Barber started she was one of 4 staff and now there are 12.  Under her leadership, the agency has added programs and expanded services to better serve children who have been abused and neglected.  The center also purchased and renovated their current facility.  Barber has served on the state board for Texas CASA and Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas.  She also has won many awards, including the Texoma Regional Citizen of the Year in 2015, the Athena Leadership Award in 2019 and the Angels in Adoption Award in 2019.

The reception will be come and go from 4:00 to 6:00 pm at the Children’s Center at 112 W. 5th in Bonham.  All are welcome.  COVID precautions will be in place, including wearing masks. For more info, visit or call (903) -583-4339.

Read Sandy’s blog for the occasion: From the Executive Director’s Desk

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Art Contest Winners

Maesyn won first place

Maesyn won first place

Seven year old Maesyn Mallicote of Sumner, Texas 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. Eight year old Xomayra Smith of Bonham, Texas won second place and $50. Her artwork will be featured on the inside of the cards.

The winning artwork will be featured in the upcoming fundraising campaign for the Children’s Center. Funds raised will provide a wide array of support service to children, youth and families recovering from abuse and neglect, including CASA, the Children’s Advocacy Center and Rainbow Room. 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.

Xomayra won second place

Xomayra won second place

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. The Rainbow Room provides new clothes, shoes, diapers, coats and other items to children served by CASA, Children’s Advocacy Center and Child Protective Services. To make a donation, learn about volunteer opportunities or read more about the center, go to




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From the Executive Director’s Desk

Sandy B redMarch 1, 2021

From the Executive Director’s Desk

Twenty years ago today, I started my job as the Executive Director of the Fannin County Children’s Center. What an amazing ride it has been – and continues to be! When I started, I was one of 4 staff. Now, we have 12 employees!

Back then, we did not have an agency website, company health insurance or a retirement plan. Social media did not even exist. Client files were kept in file folders and three ring notebooks. Grant applications were written up, printed, signed and mailed in, as was the monthly billing for them. I got my first cell phone, a Nokia, when I started this job.

The Children’s Center was located at 204 East Fifth Street, behind the Eye Center and across from Bonham State Bank. Our space was rent free, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Webb. Our Children’s Advocacy Center was still considered a “developing center” because it was only about 18 months old.

Over the years, we bought, renovated and moved into our current site. We added programs and expanded services to better serve kids from hard places. We started efforts to prevent child abuse.

I have worked with two different district judges, two district attorneys, four sheriffs and five county judges. I have served on the boards of Texas CASA and Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas. I have gone to the Capitol numerous times to advocate for kids with our state lawmakers and once even provided invited testimony to the Health and Human Services Committee of the Texas Senate.

My husband and I have raised my girls here. My youngest was born the year after I started and she is currently a freshman in college. My middle daughter started kindergarten soon after I started working here and now we are planning her wedding. My oldest is now a school teacher who, I am proud to say, is trauma informed. All three of them have many fond memories of helping wrap Christmas presents, organize school supplies and work our booth at the county fair. The last time we had Justice Is Served in-person, they were all able to attend. Their colorful handprints still decorate our Rainbow Room walls.

When I think back to all that has been accomplished over the past two decades, I am honored and amazed to have been a part of this team effort for so long. The work is both challenging and rewarding. I have been so blessed to work with so many amazing staff, board, volunteers, partners, media and donors.

Fannin County is a caring community. There is a real pride to take care of our own, especially children from hard places. It has been my privilege and honor to be here and be a part of what gets accomplished here at the Children’s Center.

As I look ahead to starting my third decade at the Children’s Center, I know there is still more work to do. We have already been hard at work, preparing ourselves to be ready for the growth and other challenges that lie ahead. We have about 8 acres of donated land, schematic drawings from our architect and a plan to raise a whole lot of money to build a new, larger facility that will help kids for years to come. We have been dreaming big and this project will be something that will help kids and families for years to come. What a blessing and honor to be a part of something so exciting and meaningful.


All are invited to a reception in celebration of Sandy Barber’s two decades of service. more

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Blue Shirts

Blue Shirt 2021 croppedGo Blue Day in Texas is Friday, April 9, 2021. 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 blue shirts available for sale for this occasion. Orders can only be placed and paid for on-line at Short sleeve shirts cost $12 each and long sleeve shirts are $18 each. Youth and adult sizes are available in two different designs, including one new design with the slogan “Be One With Courage.”

Orders must be placed by March 29 to guarantee a shirt in time for Go Blue Day on April 9, 2021. When ordering, there will be an option for free pick up at the Children’s Center after April 6 or pay extra to have the order shipped.

“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.”

“This year’s slogan “Be One With Courage” is a positive message for all of our community,” said Barber. “For the victims of child abuse who are silently bearing the trauma of abuse, this slogan encourages them to have courage and tell a trusted adult about the abuse. For adults who suspect that a child is being abused, this message encourages them to have courage to make the report to the child abuse hotline.”

The pinwheel image on this year’s shirts is a symbol used by many Children’s Advocacy Centers across the country. Staff and volunteers with the Children’s Center will be setting up pinwheel displays across the county during the month of April in honor of Child Abuse Awareness month.

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.

To order shirts or get more information about the center, go to or call (903) 583-4339.

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