Editor's note: Erath CountyUnited Way is in the midst of its 2014 capital campaign. The E-T is highlighting benefit agencies like CASA for the Cross Timbers Area.

Two agencies who receive funds from the Erath County United Way (ECUW) cover different counties, but both serve Erath county, in similar, but very different roles. The Paluxy River Children’s Advocacy Center (PRCAC) is there to serve children and non-offending caregivers through the initial legal process when there are suspicions of child abuse including: sexual, physical, and neglect. Court Appointed Special Advocates for the Cross Timbers Area (CASA-CTA) volunteers are there to represent the children as their cases move through the court system. The money provided by ECUW is used to fund items in both agencies, not covered by state and federal grants.

Children and teenagers, ages 2-18, are provided forensic interviews by trained PRCAC interviewers so that they do not need to repeat their abuse statements to multiple law enforcement representatives. The children and their families are offered counseling, support in court and referral to local community services. Through the generous donations of the United Way of Erath County, the PRCAC is able to keep our doors open to protect children, as well as provide education and prevention training in the community.

CASA-CTA is a non-profit program charged with recruiting, training, and supporting volunteers for children removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. CASA advocates are appointed by the judge to act in the best interest of a child, committing a minimum of a year to focus on giving their assigned child or set of siblings the individualized advocacy and attention needed. Advocates stay with each case until the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA advocate will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.

Last year CASA-CTA advocates donated 4,744 hours and drove 46,409 miles to serve 168 children in Erath, Bosque, Eastland, and Hamilton counties.

Judy Walker, CASA-CTA Executive Director said, “ECUW funds provide items such as football cleats for a foster teen who had to wear borrowed shoes, driver’s education for a 16 year old placed with his grandparents who live on a fixed income, assistance with adoption expenses, clothing and sometimes food, partial reimbursement for volunteer mileage when assisting with the moving of children from one placement to another or to parent/sibling visits, and other unique needs that arise.”