A Message from the President & CEO: January 2024
By Ann Marie Ronsman, President & CEO | Child Advocates of Montgomery County
Happy New Year! I hope you had wonderful holidays and got to spend time making memories with those you love.
Thank you for your advocacy work during the holidays. You made child visits, located family members, delivered gifts, attended court hearings and trials, and observed parent-child visits. Child welfare feels especially heavy during the holidays. Thank you for the time, expertise, and emotional energy you invested in children and families this holiday season and in 2023.
trust-based relational intervention® training grows in community
This past year brought opportunities for growth at Child Advocates.
Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (0-17 years). ACEs are common; about 64% of U.S. adults reported they had experienced at least one type of ACE before age 18, and nearly 1 in 6 (17.3%) reported they had experienced four or more types of ACEs. We know that of the children who experience trauma (ACEs), less than 1% of them will be removed and placed into the child welfare system. The vast majority of children (>99%) who experience trauma are victims, but they are without care.
Our goal is to create a trauma-informed Montgomery County where all professionals–whether teachers, law enforcement, CPS, court staff, or medical providers–can recognize trauma and respond to children in a trauma-informed way.
In 2023, our TBRI® team trained more than 4,500 members of our community on the impact of trauma on children. We hosted the second Childhood Trauma Impact Conference in October, attended by more than 200 community and state leaders. If you know of a community group that would like TBRI® training, please let us know!
Child Advocates serve justice-involved youth in our county
In November, we launched our Justice-Involved Youth (JIY) pilot program, the first of its kind in Texas. We have 13 Advocates who have been trained in how to advocate for youth involved in the justice system, and we are currently serving seven youth. Judge Scharlene Valdez and the Juvenile Detention and Probation team are so grateful to have Advocates willing to serve these children. Most children involved in the justice system have experienced trauma and are facing the same issues as children in foster care, only they have not been removed. Are you interested in learning more about our JIY pilot? Please contact Justice-Involved Youth Coordinator Mike Quinn at Mike@CASASpeaks4Kids.com.
Educational advocacy programs expand our reach
We also launched our Gaining Opportunities for Achievement and Learning (GOAL) Truancy Advocacy Program in collaboration with Judge Wayne Mack and Montgomery and Willis Independent School Districts this month! We have seven Advocates trained and we are serving three children. Our Advocates will work with the schools, court, families, and children to better understand the challenges with their school attendance. Truancy can be a precursor for future unemployment, crime, and incarceration. Volunteer Advocates have a great opportunity to change the trajectory of children’s lives through this pilot program.
Child Advocates is also working with Conroe Independent School District to provide Educational Surrogates for children in special education to make sure that their accommodations and/or modifications support their individual needs. We have two training opportunities this month if you are interested in becoming an Educational Surrogate. For more information on our GOAL truancy advocacy or educational surrogacy program, you can contact Educational Advocacy Coordinator Kristy O’Neal at Kristy@CASASpeaks4Kids.com.
Advocacy makes a difference
We will continue to offer space at the CASA house for parent-child visits, with CPS supervision. The garden and sensory path provide a great place for visits that are much more relaxed than in the CPS office. We also will continue to offer TBRI® coaching to all families.
You are the heart of CASA, and the work you do changes lives. Thank you for all you do to support our children and families.
Ann Marie Ronsman, MSN, RN | TBRI® Practitioner
President & CEO