ChildBuilders has been serving the Houston community for over 45 years. Founded in 1974 by a group of child advocates dedicated to improving mental health services for Houston’s area children, the core of ChildBuilders’ work has evolved from expanding treatment options for children with mental illness to preventing the abuse and trauma that contributes to mental illness in today’s youth.
ChildBuilders develops and implements primary prevention programs to achieve our mission and realize our vision. Our strategy is informed by extensive research in child abuse prevention, nurturing parenting, and positive school climate. Over many years we have brought our prevention efforts in close alignment with with recommendations from respected institutions in the United States.
At some point in their lives, most children will experience adversity, and often these experiences cause trauma (Szalavitz & Perry, 2010). One of the strongest risk factors for developing a mental illness is trauma. Trauma can negatively affect developing brain structure and function, stress responses, and attachment.
We cannot prevent all childhood adversity. Instead, we arm children with skills that can reduce their risk of trauma, increase their resilience to traumatic events, and increase their awareness of their own rights and responsibilities when it comes or keeping themselves and their communities safe.
For more information on our guiding principles, please visit the following resources.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). Preventing adverse childhood experiences (ACES): Leveraging the best available evidence. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Link
Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2020). Protective factors approaches in child welfare. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau. Link
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). https://casel.org/
The seven women in this picture came together in 1972 over a hamburger lunch. Their shared concern: Houston was becoming a world-class city but lacked treatment facilities for children with serious mental health disorders. Their concern became a mission as they began to work with local agencies and organizations to mobilize resources to fill this gap. This led to the birth of CAN-DO-IT (Children: Action Now Developing Options in Treatment) in 1974. CAN-DO-IT became a catalyst for merging money, manpower, and facilities to meet the needs of seriously mentally ill children.
Pictured from left to right: Felice "Buzz" Cohen, Angelee Duke, Barbara Henley, Polly Marsters, Muriel Folloder Phillips, Dodie McBride, and Mary Wright.
Remembering Muriel Folloder Phillips,
Our Founding Mother and
As the mother of a child with serious mental health needs, Muriel was determined to establish a treatment facility in Houston so her son could helped locally. An idea that started over a hamburger lunch became CAN-DO-IT (now ChildBuilders), and Muriel was the driving force behind it. She remained deeply involved with the organization until her death in 2016 at the age of 94. Among her many contributions to the organization were leading fundraising efforts, recruiting board and staff members, championing programs, and advocating for children at the state legislature. Not a day went by that Muriel didn’t call ChildBuilders staff to make a suggestion or offer to help.
Beloved by the Houston community, she received many humanitarian awards for her achievements on behalf of children with mental health needs. Those who were fortunate to know her will always remember the sparkle in her eye, her strength in conviction, her compassion for those less fortunate, her passion, and her fearlessness in speaking out for children. Years ago, Muriel had hamburger necklaces made for her and the other founders. When she passed away, the hamburger necklace was buried with her. The world is a better place because she was here.
Amanda stepped into the role of Executive Director of ChildBuilders in 2017 after 10 years of service to the organization. Her public health background provides an ideal perspective from which to improve community mental health.
Sanam joined ChildBuilders in 2018 after working in mental health intervention for several years. She is passionate about improving the lives of others in uplifting, enriching, and loving ways.
Gretchen joined ChildBuilders as a social work intern in 2008 after nearly 10 years in public education. She is dedicated to developing innovative approaches to preventing violence and abuse.
Janet is a licensed professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, and play therapist. Her dedication to ChildBuilders’ mission and vision has spanned three decades.
Board of Directors
Board of Directors
Alan Woodbury, CPA
Barbara Samuels, Ed.D.
Chris Greeley, MD
Dorothy F. Matthews, Ph.D.
Fernando Isart, MD, FAAP
Imogen Papadopoulos, JD
James W. Lomax, MD
Jan Redford, Ph.D
Janet Pozmantier, MS, LPC
John L. Tribo
Mary H. Wright
Myrna Engler, MSW
Robert W. Guynn, MD
William Patrick Moore, MD
of our partners
Information About Our Organization
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ChildBuilders is a fiscally responsible 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We take the role of handling our financials very seriously and are extremely diligent about where we allocate our funds to further our training, growth and awareness.
ChildBuilders maintains accounts with accreditation organizations to demonstrate organizational transparency.