Today Harvey E. Najim announced he is donating $5 million to ChildSafe, Bexar County’s only Children’s Advocacy Center, for a new, state-of-the-art campus that will be a national model for the treatment and care of abused children, at Overland Partners, the architectural firm of record.
This is the largest single gift Najim or his foundation, The Harvey E. Najim Family Foundation, have given to date. “I am making this gift to ensure that our most valuable asset, our children, are protected and safe,” said Najim.
Najim is leading a group of individuals who are developing a Community Children’s Agenda for San Antonio to ensure children birth to eight years of age are smart, healthy, happy and protected. “In my opinion, protecting children from child abuse and neglect is one of the critical keys to this agenda,” he said.
“The gift from Harvey Najim demonstrates his deep and unwavering commitment to the children of this community,” said Kim Abernethy, ChildSafe President and CEO. “We are extremely grateful for his involvement in the development of this campus, and his ongoing pledge to help those most vulnerable,” said Abernethy.
The new facility is scheduled to break ground in May, 2017, on the city’s east side, near IH-10 and East Houston Street on 36 acres. Not only will the new campus be transformative to the children and families ChildSafe serves, it will be a beautiful, natural space shared with the entire community. Twenty-one acres of land will be deeded to the City of San Antonio for the creation of a public park, making this a unique private/public partnership.
With 70,000 square feet, the new facility will house staff members of ChildSafe, Child Protective Services (CPS), Bexar County District Attorney’s Office, Bexar County’s Sheriff’s Office, San Antonio
Police Department, and Bexar County Juvenile Probation. In addition, ChildSafe and the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio are partnering to provide a wellness clinic on-site and work together to offer training to healthcare professionals and families about topics related to healthy child development.
This multi-agency approach offers a safe, child-friendly environment where professionals work together to coordinate strategies and care plans sensitive to the needs of each individual child and family.
In addition, by creating a network of support with partners, ChildSafe creates a setting that puts the child at the center and surrounds them with the services and support to expedite healing. Such an environment reduces the burden and anxiety produced by traveling from agency to agency and helps ensure clients are able to safely take their next steps in recovery.
Unfortunately, Bexar County continually ranks among cities in Texas with the highest rates of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect. In 2016, ChildSafe’s counseling services increased 33 percent, and staff size increased by 47 percent.
In addition to providing expert treatment to child abuse victims at their current campus, ChildSafe trained 14,765 individuals in the community last fiscal year to recognize and report the signs of abuse.
Because the demand is so great, ChildSafe is unable to meet the growing needs of Bexar County children and families at their current facility. The need for a larger, centrally located facility with green space and easy pedestrian and vehicular access has become urgent.
“Child abuse is too big of an issue for one agency to handle, rather we need everyone in our community to rally on behalf of young victims,” said Abernethy.
Ultimately this center and its staff will foster vital healing at a critical time in the lives of child victims. The earlier children receive treatment, the more likely they are to heal, and the less likely they are to repeat the vicious cycle of abuse.
“This new facility will become a community asset, and will support total care and restoration of our county’s abused children,” said Kim Abernethy, ChildSafe CEO.