Human Services

Child Advocates

aka Child Advocates, Inc.

Houston, TX


Child Advocates, Inc. mobilizes court appointed volunteers to break the vicious cycle of child abuse. We speak up for abused children who are lost in the system and guide them into safe environments where they can thrive.

Ruling Year


Chief Executive Officer

Ms. Sonya Galvan

Main Address

3701 Kirby Drive Suite 400

Houston, TX 77098 USA


Child Abuse Children CASA Abused and Neglected Children Court Appointed Special Advocates





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Foster Care (P32)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

In fiscal year 2016, 222 innocent children died from abuse and neglect across Texas – in Harris County 35 children died, representing a 40% increase from the previous year. According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, 5,812 children were confirmed victims of abuse or neglect in Harris County in 2016. Each day, there are 4,000 children in foster care in Harris County, more than any other county in Texas and more than 20 states (DFPS Data Book). They are children like 16-year-old Marvin who has not attended school for more than a year, witnesses his father sell drugs from the home, and was kicked out of his home by his mother who stated she does not care about him. Research shows that victims of child abuse and neglect frequently face the following grave risks: lingering learning disabilities, an increased susceptibility to crime, emotional problems, and the potential for debilitating diseases. About 30% of abused and children will later abuse their own children.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Court Services Program

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

The long-term goals of Child Advocates it to provide a court appointed advocate to serve as guardian ad litem for every child who needs on in Harris County. The immediate goal is to bridge the gap between the system and the child in care with the intention to break the cycle of child abuse for each child served. Child Advocates sets annual objectives for our Court Services Program to benchmark progress toward these goals. The 2018 annual goals for the Court Services Program include serving 2,550 children with 900 court appointed advocates.

Child Advocates expects to see the following short-term outcomes as a result of our program:
1. The children's best interests will be represented as volunteers maintain contact with all parties.
2. Judges will have more accurate, timely, and thorough information on which to base their decisions for needed services and permanency outcomes.
3. Volunteers will contribute to the maximization and continuity of needed medical, psychological, and educational services.
4. Volunteers will contribute to the timeliest case resolution with the fewest placement disruptions.

Research shows that investing in child abuse prevention programs yields a 19 to 1 savings over the long-term costs to society of child abuse. Research also confirms that preventing child maltreatment is likely a key factor in preventing youth violence. Intervention may also help prevent future domestic violence and dating violence. Child Advocates improves the likelihood of the following positive long-term outcomes for each child we serve:
1. Children will find loving, safe, and stable homes.
2. The number of children growing up in long-term foster care will decrease.
3. Children will have an increased opportunity to experience consistency, trust, love, and confidence.
4. Children will experience fewer mental health issues, less substance abuse, better housing stability, more educational opportunities, higher employment levels, and less interaction with the criminal justice system.
5. The generational cycle of abuse will be broken for the children and their families.
6. The incidence of child abuse in Harris County will decrease.

An individual who wants to become a court appointed advocate must complete our 30-hour training course, known as Advocacy University®, and pass intensive background checks. Portions of this two-week class are taught by Child Advocates staff, judges, attorneys ad litem, licensed therapists, and CPS caseworkers. The course covers subjects such as child abuse, the child welfare system, substance abuse, child development, cultural diversity, and the legal process.

Following graduation from Advocacy University®, each court appointed advocate is sworn in by a judge and assigned to a child or sibling group's case. Every effort is made to assign a volunteer within the first few months the case is open. The court appointed advocate then commits to advocating for the child or sibling group until the judge decides a permanent living solution.

For each child served in our program, his or her dedicated court appointed advocate:
• Represents the child as guardian ad litem in all court proceedings related to the case.
• Reviews documents and researches background of the case and the victim's rights.
• Provides advocacy by interviewing everyone involved with the child and the case, including relatives, attorneys, caseworkers, parents, foster parents, teachers, physicians, and therapists.
• Visits and follows-up with the child frequently to build rapport and share information and referrals, all while providing the child with a stable, supportive, and positive influence.
• Gathers and presents critical information to the presiding judge regarding where the child should live and any necessary educational services, psychological counseling, or medical treatment.

Each court appointed advocate is supervised by one of Child Advocates' professional social workers, or Advocacy Coordinators. Each Advocacy Coordinator can effectively supervise as many as 24 court appointed advocates at a time, and each court appointed advocate typically handles one case at a time. This model permits each court appointed advocate to concentrate 100 percent of his or her time and energy on one case, while allowing for constant advice, guidance, and problem solving assistance. Our service delivery model is highly efficient and cost effective in reaching many children without incurring staff costs. This allows us to leverage the expertise of our professional social workers to supervise more than 800 trained court appointed advocates.

Since 1984, Child Advocates has served as a leader in applying volunteer manpower to ensure abused and neglected children have someone designated to speak on their behalf. We are especially skilled at training everyday people with no past experience with the child welfare system to effectively navigate the complex bureaucracy as they advocate for Harris County's most vulnerable residents. We operate an effective model for leveraging volunteers to serve more children than we could with paid staff alone. By pairing volunteers with professional social workers – Advocacy Coordinators – we can ensure the children receive the personalized attention they deserve without compromising the quality of the service provided. We also excel at recruiting new volunteers to take on this challenging task and motivating them to persist despite the setbacks and challenges inherent in working with this population.

Child Advocates evaluates the success of the Court Services Program by collecting statistics which are analyzed on a monthly and quarterly basis. The Program Team monitors the number and demographics of children served, the number of active volunteers, the number of new volunteers trained, the amount of time volunteers spend on their cases, the length of each case and case outcomes. Analyzing this information allows the program team to track their progress toward meeting their annual goals as well as assisting staff in evaluating the effectiveness of the volunteers' advocacy. Child Advocates also dedicates additional time assessing volunteer retention rates and the impact of volunteers who have served on three or more cases.

From our founding with three volunteer staff members, 18 volunteer advocates and a budget of $5,000, Child Advocates has grown to a staff of 60 and a budget of nearly $6 . In 2018, we will serve 2,550 children with 900 advocates. An additional 400 volunteers will serve through various capacities including the Board of Directors, the Advisory Board, the Friends of Child Advocates guild, and the Young Professionals for Children group, while hundreds more will volunteer at special events.

As the nation's largest volunteer-driven CASA program, Child Advocates has trained 5,500 advocate volunteers and served more than 25,000 children. The organization has also established credibility in the community by ensuring 81 cents of every dollar raised goes directly toward our mission. More than 2,000 individuals made a gift to Child Advocates last year or had one made on their behalf, including 100 percent of our Board of Directors and staff.

CEO Sonya Galvan has more than 30 years of experience working with abused children. She has spent all but five of those years with Child Advocates. She leads a staff of professionals whose areas of expertise range from child advocacy and volunteer management to marketing, fundraising, information technology and finance. A volunteer Board of Directors governs Child Advocates by shaping policy, retaining financial responsibility for the organization, and supporting all fundraising efforts. Child Advocates also has an Advisory Board that acts as an additional resource for advice, fundraising assistance, and community involvement.

External Reviews


Child Advocates

Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

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  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Need more info?

FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
Click here to see what's included.

Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?