Current Initiatives

Grantee: Garth House-Mickey Mehaffy Children’s Advocacy Program (Beaumont, TX)
Award Amount: $20,000
Total Project Budget: $101,197
Project Name: Capacity and Competency Building of the Multidisciplinary Team
Grantee Website: www.garthhouse.org

By implementing the project, "Capacity and Competency Building of Multidisciplinary Team,'' Garth House intends to address three priority areas.

  • The first of these is to increase the number of interviews that can be conducted by Garth House through the purchase of additional recording equipment and creation of a second interview room on Garth House's Beaumont property. These steps are being taken in response to a rapid increase in interviews since March 2018 and the resulting space and time constraints placed on the center's staff and investigative agencies.
  • The second priority is to provide relevant training and tools for Garth House's multidisciplinary team. Trainings will relate to trauma-informed care and implementation of a tool for identifying child victims of commercial sexual exploitation in the field and at other stages of an investigation, such as at the time of a Sexual Assault Nurse Exam (SANE) or forensic interview. Contract counselors serving rural counties will additionally benefit from training on Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) Applications with Commercially Sexually Exploited Children.
  • The third priority area establishes a facilitator for the center's newly developing commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) task force. The individual in this role will coordinate the establishment of a task force and the many administrative responsibilities that accompany project. Such activities may include preparing meeting agendas and presentations for initial onboarding of partners, drafting policies and memorandums of understanding for members, identifying key areas of need for each county and arranging appropriate training to meet those need, and cultivating relationships with other community service providers who may join the task force.

Grantee: Harris County Institute of Forensic Science
Award Amount: $119,129
Total Project Budget: $119,129
Project Title: Multidisciplinary Approach in Investigating Child Abuse: Is There Opportunity for Early Recognition and Prevention?
Grantee Website: https://ifs.harriscountytx.gov/Pages/default.aspx

During the investigation of pediatric cases (clinical or medicolegal), a broad range of information pertaining to the child, the family or caregivers, the environment in which the injury or death occurred, as well as circumstances surrounding the injury or death is obtained. How this information is obtained may affect the quality of the information provided by the family and the type of information recorded (e.g. medical history, home environment, infant care). There is currently insufficient guidance available for first responders, and medicolegal authorities with jurisdictions outside of Harris County regarding appropriate techniques for gathering this information from caretakers and family. Additionally, there is little data available comparing child fatalities investigated by a medical examiner’s office with previous interactions within the medical (clinical) system. Identifying trends between these populations may provide opportunities for intervention and prevention before the death of a child occurs.The HCIFS will undertake a multidisciplinary project to address child abuse through training and research focusing on child death investigators in Texas. The goal of this training is to provide instruction on proper child maltreatment investigations to practitioners in small and large jurisdictions to facilitate improved procedures. The research component of this proposal will address two goals/questions: to identify possible areas for interventions that may prevent the death of a child from abuse and to identify potential missed opportunities for intervention in antemortem medical care.


Grantee: Shaken Baby Alliance 
Award Amount: $19,996
Total Project Budget: $25,891
Project Name: The Forensic Investigation in Child Physical Abuse, Child Fatality & Child Neglect Cases – Making a Difference Together
Grantee Website: www.shakenbaby.org

Shaken Baby Alliance will hold two regional multidisciplinary stakeholder trainings. The first will be a two-day training in Maverick County and the second will be a one-day training in Montague County.

These trainings will enhance regional capacity by providing training for a coordinated response to allegations of child abuse/neglect and child death cases by the disciplines involved with these cases.  Attendees will leave with a strong foundation of the medical aspects of child abuse including mechanism of injury, timing of injuries, and the ability to compare the history with the injury.  Participants will receive instruction on how to utilize the 12 Elements of the Successful Forensic Investigation©.  Through a block of instruction entitled Tools You Can Use:  Resources for the MDT, these rural communities will be able to better leverage existing resources to develop strong legal cases.  Community collaboration will be built by the community stakeholders planning the training modules, attending training, and hosting a team building opportunity during or near the training date.


Grantee: Texas Legal Services Center
Award Amount: $100,000
Total Project Budget: $374,842
Project Name: Family Helpline
Grantee Website: http://www.tlsc.org/

The Family Helpline provides callers with free, quality, clear, legal information and education regarding Texas CPS legal issues. All services at the Family Helpline are provided by attorneys with significant experience in CPS cases. Providing callers with quality and correct legal information will allow individuals navigating the child welfare system to make more informed and thoughtful decisions regarding a child welfare legal matter. When a person can make a decision based on accurate legal information and not just fear or misinformation, families will be better equipped to make informed decisions regarding the children involved.


Grantee: SAFE Alliance
Award Amount: $118,099
Total Project Budget: $118,099
Project Name: Engaging Communities to Increase Access to Justice for Child Victims with Disabilities
Grantee Website: www.safeaustin.org

SAFE will implement a 1-year planning project partnering with The Arc of Texas (TAOT) and The Arc of the Hill Country, focused on a small city/county: New Braunfels and Comal County, Texas. Stakeholders will explore their obstacles in reporting, investigating and prosecuting crimes against children with disabilities. Partners will work collaboratively with child protective staff, child advocates, first responders, investigators, prosecutors, judges, parents, educators, and others, to identify priority needs and creative solutions to help ensure more- effective responses to cases involving child victims with disabilities. Project staff will also reach out to and engage interested and invested statewide agency staff in Austin, including: Texas Department of Family & Protective Services/Child Protective Services, Texas Municipal Police Association, Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas, Disability Rights-Texas, Texas Court Appointed Special Advocates, Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of Disability Prevention for Children; plus pertinent SAFE staff who serve abuse survivors.


Grantee: Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas
Award Amount: $250,000
Total Project Budget: $570,401
Project Name: Strengthening Capacity and Leveraging Existing Resources to Improve the MDT Response
Grantee Website: www.cactx.org

Given the size and diversity of the State of Texas, addressing capacity gaps across the spectrum of agencies, professionals and disciplines required to effectively bring safety, justice and healing to child victims of abuse, will require creative, strategic and collaborative solutions. Capacity building, if addressed at all, has traditionally taken place in an “discipline specific” manner.  This eliminates the possibility to think creatively, leveraging resources and support external to the discipline. As such, the solution is usually centered around procurement of resources and when this is not an option, no solution is employed.  This siloed approach also minimizes the opportunity to utilize the benefits of a multidisciplinary team approach, which inherently brings capacity, expertise and overall effectiveness within the individual discipline, all of which are cited as goals within the three-year assessment. The CAC model is uniquely situated as the nucleus within the system, working with each of the sectors identified in priority number one of the assessment.  Hence, CACTX is uniquely qualified to develop and deliver unique, statewide/systems level collaborative solutions that can strengthen each of the identified sectors – health professional, courts, death investigations, and MDT – independently, but also in contemplation of one another. Furthermore, the network of CACs can help continue these efforts beyond the scope of this grant, which will bring longevity to this project’s aspirations and the goals of the three-year assessment and CJA Taskforce. This proposal brings forth several entirely new initiatives aimed at both identifying causal factors and addressing each in the atmosphere of collaboration.


Grantee: Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas
Award Amount: $249,755
Total Project Budget: $249,755
Project Name: Law Enforcement Capacity and Statewide Child Sex Trafficking Response
Grantee Website: www.cactx.org

Law Enforcement Capacity: In FY17, there were 66,034 cases assigned for investigation of sexual abuse and priority one physical abuse by the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). These cases typically fall within the case criteria to receive a CAC MDT response as they require action by the civil (DFPS) and criminal justice (law enforcement) systems and thus need a joint investigation. In Texas, the infrastructure to facilitate joint investigations is housed within the network of CACs. Unfortunately, in FY17 only 54% of these cases benefitted from the collaborative CAC approach. One of the factors that contributed to this is a dearth in law enforcement detectives for these cases which virtually eliminates the possibility for a joint investigation. Given that law enforcement agencies and prosecutors largely operate at the city and county level CACTX will engage in systems-level conversations to (1) bring awareness to the criminal justice system’ role in child protection, (2) identify gaps, and (3) address barriers in meeting a vision for child protection in our state which contemplates both safety and justice.

Statewide Child Sex Trafficking Response
: CACTX has been in formalized discussions with the Office of the Governor’s Child Sex Trafficking Team (CSTT) regarding a statewide child sex trafficking response since April 2017. Since that time, the CSTT has worked with urban areas within the state to develop a coordinated care response to child sex trafficking. As these efforts in urban areas begin to take shape, CACTX and the CSTT have been working on the development of a plan to reach other areas of the state through the existing CAC network. This will require efforts from CACTX to:

  • Work with local CAC staff who may provide coordinated care duties,
  • Facilitate and conduct trainings for MDT members and stakeholders,
  • Facilitate and conduct meetings with MDT members and stakeholders,
  • Provide technical assistance to local CACs and MDTs, and
  • Work closely with the Governor’s Office CSTT.