BEAUMONT, TX (News Release) - By Holley Nees - email
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) – One East Texas organization that is an advocacy for children says now they are in need of help. Court Appointed Special Advocates for children says their caseload has increased dramatically over the past year.
Rebecca Carlton with CASA says there are drawings from children who found someone to speak for them.
"What we actually are is the voice of the child in a suit where children generally don't have voices, "said Carlton.
In more than a year, CASA has gone from caseload to case-overload.
"When a child died here in Nacogdoches County, due to abuse and neglect, everyone has been working really hard to make sure that kids are safe and so our caseload has increased by about 65 percent, "said Carlton.
Carlton says 92 children are in the program, which are nearly 50 cases and right now they only have 35 volunteers. The goal, she says, is to have about one volunteer per case.
"Since April 24 we have gotten seven new cases of child abuse and neglect. That is 11 kids and I'm sitting here thinking, 'How much can I ask of our staff members? How much can I ask of our volunteers?'" said Carlton.
The volunteers say it's a sacrifice that needs to be made.
"There's a lot of kids, I had no idea the abuse and neglect that went on in this county," volunteer Scott Massey said. "You know, it's so small, you wouldn't believe."
These advocates spend time working on children's cases and developing reports to give a judge more information to make a decision.
"We definitely go to court, but the majority of my time is spent visiting with the kids, with their foster family, with maybe their teachers," said volunteer Nancy Cagle.
They see a positive. They say the heavy load is a combination of more people reporting abuse and community support.
"Our department is watching for those things more and they're not taking chances, they're protecting children," said Carlton.
"God put a spirit inside these kids and they want to survive," said Cagle.
All children need a voice in their struggle for survival.
Those interested in volunteering should call 936-560-4711 or visit the CASA Web site at becomecasa.org.