Child Advocates, Inc.

aka Child Advocates, Inc.   |   Houston, TX   |


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

Ruling year info


Chief Executive Officer

Ms. Sonya Galvan

Main address

3701 Kirby Drive Suite 400

Houston, TX 77098 USA

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NTEE code info

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Foster Care (P32)

Victims' Services (P62)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

According to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, 6,882 children were confirmed victims of abuse or neglect in Harris County (Houston), Texas in 2020. They are children like twin infants Madeline & Melinda whose father hid them in a hotel room where they were found with severe diaper rash and insufficient formula-milk. The room was in a state of disarray with trash, alcohol bottles, and pills. Both of their parents were under the influence of drugs, and their father had to be detained by police due to his behavior. The current child protection system is overburdened - each day, there are more children in foster care in Harris County than in half of the nation's states (DFPS Data Book; ACF/Children's Bureau). Numerous academic studies document adverse outcomes linked to youth exiting foster care, such as homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse and incarceration. According to the Texas Appleseed Project, 74% of prison inmates were once in the foster care system.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

Court Services Program

Child Protective Services (CPS) caseworkers and attorneys appointed by the court often juggle multiple cases which prevents them from focusing the time and effort that every child's case deserves. As a result, some children do not receive the medical, psychological, or educational resources needed to recover from the trauma caused by abuse and neglect. Through an investment of time, volunteer advocates strategically work with CPS caseworkers, attorneys ad litem, and judges to represent the best interests of children who are at risk of falling through the cracks of an overburdened system. Children placed in foster care face a frightening future - fluctuating between temporary placements, such as foster homes, relatives’ homes, and other short-term living arrangements, creates a pattern of instability in these children’s lives. For many foster children, a court appointed advocate is the one constant in their lives, a strong role model who understands their unique case background, visits with them on a regular basis, and supports their future aspirations. Advocates provide recommendations to judges regarding the children’s permanency plans through court reports and testimony during case hearings and trials. Each advocate researches the child’s case background and interviews individuals who know the child, such as parents and foster parents, relatives, teachers, and therapists, to represent the child's best interests in court. Advocates are supervised by Child Advocates’ staff - professional case managers with child welfare experience - for the duration of the children's court cases.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
At-risk youth
Economically disadvantaged people
Victims of crime and abuse

Where we work


Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

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

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.

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.


Child Advocates, Inc.

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Child Advocates, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 02/22/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Hildegarde Ballard

Houston City Personnel

Term: 2021 - 2022

David Baird

Baird LWT Consulting, LLC

Rick Burnett

Burnett Specialists

Eddy De Los Santos

Baker Donelson

Caroline Finkelstein

ECCO Design

Terrence Gee


Dwayne Hyzak

Main Street Capital Corporation

Ron Orsini

Alvarez and Marsal

David Quackenbush

Gimmal LLC

Frank Rynd

Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

David Winn

Community Volunteer

Florence Langford

Community Volunteer

Brian Mandell

Phillips 66

Jeff Manley

Armadillo Financial Partners

Joy Posoli

Community Volunteer

Shelley Washburn

GS Marketing

Mark Smith

Helmerich & Payne

Hildegarde Ballard

Houston City Personnel

Georgina Goodnight

Chevron Phillips Chemical Corporation

Michelle Gray

Folger, Brar, Ford, O’Niel & Gray, LLP

Kelly Hawkins

KRJ Management, Inc.

Dolly Dawson Thomas

Community Volunteer

Josh Smith

Grant Thornton

Leah Barton

Community Volunteer

Shachella James

CenterPoint Energy

Chastiti Horne

Horne Rota Moos LLP

Victoria Varner

Wells Fargo

Laura Davenport

Community Volunteer

Howard Laster

Becton Dickinson & Co.

Bridgett Matthes


Laura Ryan

Purdy Mobility

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/29/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


No data