Child Advocates, Inc.
Our mission is to speak up for abused and neglected children who are lost in the system and guide them into safe environments where they can thrive. On any given day, there are over 5,000 abused and neglected children in foster care in Harris County. Unfortunately, Child Protective Services caseworkers and court-appointed attorneys are often juggling such large caseloads that they cannot focus on any one case. As a result, some children do not receive the medical or psychological help they need, while others live in fear of an abusive foster parent.
Child Advocates volunteers provide a voice for these children in a court system that can be confusing and overwhelming. The advocate volunteer’s job is to provide recommendations to the judge about where the child should live after leaving foster care and what medical, educational, or psychological services he or she needs to recover from the wounds of abuse. To compile these reports, the volunteers research case records and interview relatives, foster parents, teachers, doctors, and others.
All court appointed volunteers undergo extensive training and receive ongoing support throughout the life of a case. Advocates must complete a 30-hour training course and clear background checks before being assigned to a case. Each volunteer is then supervised by one of Child Advocates’ professional social workers. Because our volunteers handle just one case at a time, they can give each child’s case the personal attention it deserves. This allows the Harris County judges to make better decisions regarding that child’s future and his or her current needs.
Child Advocates volunteers make a profound difference in the lives of the children they serve. Studies show children served by an advocate volunteer are better able to work with others and to control deviant behavior than children without an advocate. Also, more parents of these children complete counseling services, psychiatric evaluations and drug and alcohol counseling than those without an advocate. With Child Advocates’ help, the cycle of abuse can be broken, allowing these children to become productive adults and loving parents.