GAINESVILLE, TX -- Every year at least 100 kids in Cooke county are abused and neglected, then they face the trauma of going through the court system.
One nonprofit group works to help them, but they're running out of resources.
These are the faces of court appointed advocates in Cooke county. Together they help more than 100 abused and neglected children a year.
They talk to the children, teachers, counselors and law enforcement, and present what they know about the child to the judge to ensure they're placed back into a safe home or adopted.
"They don't have anyone who is only there to speak up for what they need, and to make sure that the people who make decisions hear from them. So, really to give a child a CASA is to give them a voice within the court system and the CPS system," Director of CASA of North Texas Vicki Robertson said.
"We wanted to be a voice for these children. They have been caught up in something that through no fault of their own, that they're in a system that's pretty scary," CASA volunteer Winna Hankins said.
"I want to help get the family unit back. And of course, we want to be a voice for the kids," CASA volunteer Patrick Hermes said.
But, these volunteers can't do all of it alone.
"We have 18 children today who don't have a CASA volunteer, who we're going to have to turn away. And children who come in after that, we're going to have to turn them away. So, they won't have that advocate," Robertson said.
Becoming a CASA requires that you have at least 10 to 15 hours a month to give to a case. Cases can last a year or longer, so it takes commitment.
Volunteers say it's an agonizing process, but extremely rewarding.
"You hate the circumstances that the children come to you, because they're just a victim of where they are at the time. But when you finally get to the point of an adoption and you see these children safe, being a grandmother, and knowing how my children are loved and nurtured and cared for, I want all children to have a childhood," CASA volunteer Galene Morris said.
Grayson county CASA is also in need of more volunteers.
If you'd like more information about CASA we've posted a link to their website.
The Cooke county CASA phone number is 940-665-2244.
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