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. Our 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. We recommended that a state commission on children and youth be established. We also urged the City of Houston and Harris County to establish a joint commission on children. Both these proposals were carried out. We 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… We 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. We are a leading source of accurate information and an advocate and catalyst for change on behalf of the children of Houston and Harris County. We are a persuasive voice for children speaking with knowledge, commitment, and tenacity.