CHILDREN AT RISK kicked off the new year with new projects and a new legislative session. Below are just a few highlights from our efforts this January!  

CHILDREN AT RISK & Anti-Trafficking Advocates Rally to End Trafficking NOW!

Closing out Human Trafficking Awareness Month, CHILDREN AT RISK hosted its traditional rally on the capitol steps virtually this year due to the pandemic. Livestreamed over two days, January 25 & 26, anti-trafficking advocates and legislators gathered to acknowledge the seriousness of human trafficking and what legislative actions could be taken to put an end to this twisted business.

In advance of the rally, CHILDREN AT RISK presented new data on human trafficking in various state regions. Along with our allies, Demand Disruption, No Strings Attached, New Life Refuge, the Houston 20, The Net, and Allies Against Slavery, CAR provided insights on the needs and issues facing these regions and encouraged the Legislature to prioritize the issue of human trafficking in the 87th Legislative Session.

On rally day, a ten-year tradition originating in 2011, Legislators with established records in the fight to end human trafficking spoke on the issue. It highlighted the need to do more in the upcoming session. Later, CHILDREN AT RISK provided training for new advocates and unpacked its anti-trafficking agenda. This session’s slate focuses on bills that address the demand side of human trafficking and child exploitation, provide increased protections for survivors, and close financial loopholes that enable traffickers to profit.

CHILDREN AT RISK and partners Demand Disruption, No Strings Attached, New Life Refuge, the Houston 20, The Net, and Allies Against Slavery share regional data and insights on suspected trafficking in their communities.

Pictured top, left-right: Dr. Bob Sanborn, Rep. Tan Parker, Rep. Ann Johnson, Rep. Shawn Thierry, Sen. Bryan Hughes, Sen. Joan Huffman, Rep. James White. Not Pictured: Rep. Senfronia Thompson, Rep. Tony Tinderholt.

CHILDREN AT RISK Launches the Vaccination Information Project

As of January 15, fewer than five percent of Texans have received even one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Texas parents and caregivers face several hurdles to getting vaccinated. Many Texas families lack access to a family doctor or in rural areas a large chain pharmacy, grocery store, or other vaccine distribution site. Vaccine hesitancy is an additional concern. According to a recent poll conducted by the Episcopal Health Foundation, one in five Texans say they are “very unlikely” to get the vaccine. It is clear Texas has a long journey ahead to getting Texas families fully vaccinated.

CHILDREN AT RISK and partners the Immunization Partnership and January Advisors host a press conference on vaccination rates, barriers, and hesitancy in the Rio Grande Valley. 

Dr. David McClendon of January Advisor’s shares new data on COVID-19 vaccine distribution and hesitancy rates. 

As our state works to distribute vaccines, the need for quality data, clear public messaging, and an eye towards equity is more important than ever. To support these efforts, CHILDREN AT RISK and our partners, January Advisors, and the Immunization Partnership recently launched the Vaccination Information Project (VIP). Working with local leaders, medical providers, and trusted community voices in each Texas region, VIP hosted press conferences for media in Houston, Austin, North Texas, San Antonio, West Texas, and the Rio Grande Valley. Each press conference highlighted the challenges each community is facing to distribute the vaccine quickly and equitably.

Watch the Regional Press Conferences: 

CHILDREN AT RISK Welcomes New Staff in 2021

CHILDREN AT RISK is excited to welcome new members to our team! Residing in El Paso, San Antonio, Dallas, and other parts of our state, we look forward to continuing to expand our research and advocacy efforts Texas-wide.  Keep reading to learn more about our new team members!

Anna Alemán

Anna Alemán, MPA, joins CHILDREN AT RISK  as one of our new  Major Gifts Officers. Previously she served as Director of Programs and Major Gifts for UMC Foundation and El Paso Children’s Hospital Foundation, Executive Director of the Paso del Norte Charitable Foundation, and devoted 11 years as the Executive Director for the FEMAP Foundation.

A professional since 1998, Alemán holds a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from Bernard M. Baruch College in New York City and is a National Urban Fellow. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and a minor in English Literature from the University of Texas at El Paso and is a native El Pasoan.  She has also spent time in San Diego, Indianapolis, and New York. She is married to Louie Salazar and together they share a love as art collectors.

Their greatest thrill and adventure, though, is found witnessing the life of their 13-year old son, Camilo.

Carisa Heiss

Carisa Heiss also joined CHILDREN AT RISK in January of 2021 as a Major Gifts Officer. She brings over twenty years of nonprofit fundraising experience to the organization, as well as a passion for youth-related causes. Previously she served as the Chief Development Officer at Rise Recovery, Director of Development at San Antonio Sports, the Development Director at the Barshop Jewish Community Center of San Antonio, and the JCC Maccabi Games Director, among other roles in the local nonprofit community.

Carisa will bring awareness of the mission, the research, and advocacy work to the San Antonio area and surrounding communities. Additionally, she will help lead the charge to grow the organization’s funder and community partner base across the state. Carisa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Trinity University in San Antonio. Immediately following college, Carisa spent four years in Washington, DC.

When she’s not working, Carisa enjoys spending time with her husband, Joshua, and their two children. A ten-time half marathon finisher, she is training to complete her eleventh half. She enjoys live music and takes every opportunity to see Willie Nelson in concert. During basketball season, Carisa enjoys cheering for her favorite team, the San Antonio Spurs.

In addition to Anna and Carisa, CHILDREN AT RISK welcomes four new AmeriCorps VISTAs. Our VISTAs (Volunteers in Service to America) participate in a national service program dedicated to ending poverty by building the capacity of nonprofit organizations and public agencies. Please help us in welcoming our 2021-22 VISTAS!

Allison Braley 

Development and Communications VISTA

“After doing programming work for other non-profits, I’m excited to dive in and learn about the development side at Children at Risk, and I look forward to working with the awesome team here!”


Craig Cramer

Human Trafficking VISTA

 “I’m excited to support CHILDREN AT RISK in the effort to protect children and end human trafficking, one of the most egregious of crimes committed against some of our most vulnerable.”


Sadler Davis

Education Advocacy and Communications VISTA

“I’m excited to help raise awareness around issues kids face and fight for them”



Michael Ou

Food Access and Nutrition VISTA

I am most excited about connecting with local school districts and helping them improve nutrition programs for children.”


Upcoming CHILDREN AT RISK Events

February 4  – The State of Houston’s Children

There is still time to join us for the State of Houston’s Children on Feb 4, from 10:30-12:30! We’ll dive into the latest Houston data, here from local community leaders and experts, and celebrate the release of our latest Growing Up In Houston report!

March 2 – Kroger School Food Rankings

In the wake of school closures and virtual learning, Texas school nutrition workers and departments went above and beyond last year to feed families and keep kids from going hungry! Join us on March 2nd when we will release our annual Kroger School Food Rankings and celebrate Texas’ top-ranked districts and school nutrition departments live at!

March 9 – Early Childhood Education Advocacy Day

While we cannot meet on the capitol steps this year, we can make our voices heard! Join CHILDREN AT RISK, legislators, and early childhood advocates from across the state in a rally for better early childhood systems and public policies. Together we can push legislators to prioritize infants, toddlers, and their caregivers this session!

None of our Work would be possible without you! 

We rely on volunteers and donations to sustain our research and advocacy efforts for Texas children in need. Help us keep the fight going by making a meaningful gift today! 


March Round-Up: Advocates in Action

March Round-Up: Advocates in Action

Advocates in Action As the 87th Texas Legislative Session heats up, Children at Risk advocates are hard at work supporting and drawing attention to good bills for kids. So far this session, Children at Risk has hosted three advocacy days and virtual rallies,...

read more