CHILDREN AT RISK is a non-partisan research and advocacy organization dedicated to addressing the root causes of poor public policies affecting children. The organization began in the fall of 1989 when a group of child advocates met to discuss the lack of data on the status of children and the absence of strong public policy support for Houston’s children. CHILDREN AT RISK has grown to become a statewide organization impacting all children in Texas, and has been speaking out and driving change for Texas’ most defenseless youth for over twenty years. Using the tools of advocacy, CHILDREN AT RISK works on a broad range of children’s issues, including education, juvenile justice, mental health, physical health, and parenting. We focus our efforts where they are needed most: where a significant number of Texas’ children are affected, and where we can enhance, but not duplicate, the work of others.
During its over twenty year history, CHILDREN AT RISK has evolved from an organization researching the multitude of obstacles our children face, to one that also drives macro-level change to better the future of our city and state through community education, collaborative action, evidence-based public policy, and advocacy for our youth at the local and state level. Through its Public Policy & Law Center established in 2006 as the only center of its kind in Texas- CHILDREN AT RISK uses policy and legal expertise as a powerful tool to drive change and create a better future for our children. In recent years, CHILDREN AT RISK has grown exponentially in its capacity to speak out and drive change for Texas’s children and has become the premier resource on children’s issues among major media outlets, public officials, and the non-profit sector. In addition, the organization has significantly strengthened its voice in the community through a weekly radio show, regular appearances on television and radio broadcasts, and partnerships with newspapers. Learn more about CHILDREN AT RISK’s recent accomplishments.
Our History: The Beginning
As told by Nicole Perdue, former Chair of the CHILDREN AT RISK Board of Directors, at the 2009 Accolades luncheon celebrating CHILDREN AT RISK’s 20th Anniversary.
In 1989, several child advocates met to discuss the fact that the problems of Houston’s children were not well documented. Armed with a March of Dimes grant, they developed a 60 page research book entitled “Children At Risk”. They released it at a 1990 Legislative Forum. The goal was to educate the Houston area delegation about the needs of our children and to drive the legislators to action.
Our founders were disappointed. They were dismayed by what they learned as they developed the book and disillusioned by the lack of response to it. They concluded that Houston’s children were not going to enjoy a better tomorrow unless they got a strong advocate. They challenged themselves to create an organization to meet this need.
Our founders researched child advocacy groups across America and designed a unique organization with three components:
- A Board of Directors, made up of community leaders who care deeply about children
- A Technical Advisory Committee , comprised of professionals with comprehensive knowledge of children’s issues and
- A staff, skilled in advocacy to implement the organization’s mission.
On October 2, 1991, CHILDREN AT RISK was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization. Their mission: To serve as the voice for children in the greater Houston area.
The United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast gave CHILDREN AT RISK a Community Response Fund grant and a mandate “to become a community catalyst for change on issues, service systems and policies that have an impact on our community’s children.”
CHILDREN AT RISK wasted no time. They recommended that a state commission on children and youth be established. They also urged the City of Houston and Harris County to establish a joint commission on children. Both these proposals were carried out. They published “Houston’s Children – 1992” and embarked on a ten-year project to produce a set of indicators to measure trends in the quality of life of our children… They envisioned working with decision makers and others to improve the lives of all children. We see that goal being met day after day, today included.
Today CHILDREN AT RISK is a research and educational organization. They are a leading source of accurate information and an advocate and catalyst for change on behalf of the children of Houston and Harris County. They are a persuasive voice for children speaking with knowledge, commitment, and tenacity.