We’re featuring a CASA program that is making an amazing difference for the children and families they serve using the original socially distanced communication medium… snail mail, or postal mail!
For years, Child Advocates of Fort Bend has been going above and beyond for the children they serve by offering specialized programming for all different age ranges: a 0-5 program, N.E.S.T. (Nurturing Education and Social Triumphs) for ages 6-13, and WINGS for teenagers 14-18.
In addition to teaching children and teens important life skills, N.E.S.T. and WINGS share another unique focus: community service. Child Advocates of Fort Bend wants to ensure that not only are the youth they serve safe and equipped to succeed, but that they leave foster care feeling empowered and inspired to make a difference of their own.
“A lot of youth have probation requirements, or they need community service hours to graduate high school,” said Advocacy Specialist Team Leader Aly Ferrante. “It gives them a really good opportunity to learn about the importance of giving back to the community.”
Each year during Fall and Spring Break, Child Advocates of Fort Bend coordinates a variety of community service events. This year, because of the pandemic, they had to get creative. They mailed “Give Back Boxes” to youth that contained everything they need to be able to do a service project safely from their own homes, including:
- Greeting cards, postage and envelopes for youth to write thank you cards for first responders, friendly greetings to people in senior living communities, and others;
- Sidewalk chalk for youth to decorate and write positive messages for others in their neighborhoods;
- Coloring pages and blue ribbons to tie around trees for Child Abuse Prevention Month awareness, and more.
Starting early this year, they have also been mailing quarterly time capsules to the children and youth they serve. Youth answer questions on a questionnaire like “Who do you share good news with?” and “What does a typical week look like for you?” and also put in small objects that remind them of good memories during the time period. Child Advocates of Fort Bend makes a photocopy and eventually sends the original back to the youth.
The time capsules help the program document data and connections; and most importantly, give youth something to get excited about, help them to remember positive experiences during foster care, and support them to see how things in their life can change.