The Children’s Advocacy Center of Central Texas began its existence in 1997. George Moffatt, a Bell County Sheriff’s Office investigator recognized the need for a child-friendly interview room where he could interview his young victims. A space in the Juvenile Detention Center was donated for this purpose. Donations of toys and furniture continued and the room was complete. The vision continued to grow and eventually with the help of a Bell County Attorney’s investigator, Jack Mazzucca, and various dedicated Board members, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Central Texas was created. In 1998, Incorporation was completed, membership to Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas was obtained and start-up funds secured. An Executive Director was hired and began work in early January 1999. The center began MDT Team meetings to staff and discuss child abuse cases in November 1998, and began interviewing victims in the new interview room mid January 1999. In the first year of operation, the center provided collaborative services to 189 children. In 2009 it is expected the center may provide services to up to 500 children. The staff and budget has grown each year with the support of the community.
In 1977, a Judge in Seattle, Washington, David Soukoff,was making permanent, life altering decisions on where to place children in foster care. He did not feel that he could appropriately make informed decisions because he did not have enough information to do so. He thought it would be nice to have a neutral party looking in on each case to help him make those decisions. Judge Soukoff was the founder of the CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, organization. CASA’s, or CASA volunteers are adults in the community that are trained to go to court and advocate for abused and neglected children. They are trained to be a voice for abused and neglected children in court.
CASA of Bell County was incorporated in 1997. CASA of Bell County was established when a group of concerned citizens and judges felt children in foster care needed to be advocated for in the court system. The first CASA case in Bell County was appointed in 1998.
In February 2005, a dedicated group of citizens in Coryell County recognized the need for a CASA program. Quickly, the initial organizational meeting took place, with judicial approval shortly following. The mission was headed by a local woman, Laura White, who commits much of her time to children’s and charitable causes and Bill Wheeless, a trained CASA who moved to the area from Cross Timbers, Texas. In March 2005, The Children’s Advocacy Center of Central Texas, Inc. agreed to accept the responsibility of incorporating CASA of Coryell County as a new program.
In 2009, the CASA program expects to have advocated for more than 300 children.
In June of 2006, after the Coryell CASA program was in full operation, the boards of CACCT and CASA of Bell County decided to merge together under The Children’s Advocacy Center of Central Texas, Inc. to form one organization addressing the needs of child victims of abuse and neglect. This newly formed umbrella agency held a commitment to abused and neglected children in Bell and Coryell counties. With the programs coming together it was felt that more children would be positively impacted by advocacy of the organization.