Remember These Children Are Loved by God
Remember these children are loved by God. Pray for their blessed souls. I believe the world is a better place because they lived – even if it was for a short time. You do this for them and those other babies and children who need you.”
Sergeant Rachel DeHoyos, an officer who leads a team of 18 detectives in the Crimes Against Children Unit at the Alliance For Children building, has this quote by her sister, Tonya DeHoyos Detten, framed and hanging prominently on the wall for all who enter her office to see.
I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Sgt. DeHoyos while I was on a tour of the Alliance For Children facility. Upon meeting Sgt. DeHoyos, I could tell instantly that she was passionate about the work she does and the impact she is making in our community by investigating accusations of child abuse and abandonment. Day in and day out, every person who works for the non-profit Alliance For Children fights tirelessly and fiercely to protect Tarrant County children from the horrors of abuse.
Approximately 2,000 children are referred to the four Alliance For Children centers every year. The organization’s goal is to unite the communities in Tarrant County to fight child abuse and reduce the level of trauma on these victims by assisting different local and state agencies to work together to enhance the effectiveness of child abuse investigations. This approach helps children and their families feel comfortable with the system, and it eases some of the trauma the children endure.
This collaborative model involves staff from Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, detectives from participating law enforcement agencies, the Cook Children’s Medical Center CARE Team, JPS Health Services, Tarrant County Juvenile Services, and the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office. These professionals investigate reports of serious, life-threatening child physical abuse, child sexual abuse, and child fatalities. Children, ages birth to seventeen, are referred to the centers by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services or by law enforcement.
Alliance For Children aims to provide a safe, child friendly, neutral space where the staff of all these different agencies can work together to meet a child’s needs. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the staff have seen a massive rise in referrals and cases; they worked over 2,700 cases of child abuse and abandonment in 2020. Alliance For Children advocates for each child at the center of these cases and strives to provide a place where they can feel safe.
Each child referred to Alliance For Children is greeted with a snack or a toy which helps to help build connection and express support from the moment they step through the doors. Programs offered include camps where children can see and understand that they are not alone or isolated, counseling programs (both group and individual) for victims and families, and educational programs to both help the public recognize abuse and help children speak up when they need help.
As I toured the facility, two thoughts kept running through my mind: “How can I help?” and “What do they need to continue the work they are doing?” The answers are simple: donations and volunteers.
Volunteer opportunities are listed on the Alliance For Children website and include opportunities for personal interaction (with training) and helping with special events. Events throughout the year in which the community can get involved include the Back-to-School Backpack Drive, the Let’s Play Bingo! Ladies Luncheon, the Sporting Clay Tournament, and more. There are also workshops to help parents learn to keep their children safe.
Donations of new, unused children’s items are always welcome. Just some of the things that are constantly needed are clothing of all sizes (including school uniforms), diapers, wipes, toiletries, Pack-and-Plays, and twin beds.
Children are incredibly resilient. They can and do heal from abuse. Alliance For Children provides services to rebuild the lives of child abuse victims and their protective caregivers and the support needed to begin the healing process. During the tour, we were repeatedly told that it is vitally important to report abuse if you suspect it. So often, the victims cannot speak for themselves. The identity of the reporter is always confidential. Reporting suspected abuse very often means saving a child’s life.
So make the difference in a child’s life. Speak up. Keep your eyes open and always be discerning about who and what is safe to be around your children.
Angela Weaver is a native Texan, raised in Keller, but she got to Fort Worth as soon as she could. At 17, she joined the Marine Corps and served four years active duty. After her military service ended, she went to work for a hedge fund and then a whiskey distillery, both in Fort Worth. Her most important role started in 2009 when she became a mom. She lives with her two boys in Fort Worth and spends as much time as possible on fun adventures with them. She loves to spend her time with her boys outdoors getting the full Boy Mom experience, even if that means being covered in dirt, catching fish, or shooting BB guns. She loves the sense of community she has found in Fort Worth and can’t wait share that with our readers.