Fee sought to aid child advocacy

By Larry Tucker
Posted 12/31/69

Wood County commissioners continued to work their way through budget requests last week on Monday and Thursday. They have more workshops set this week.

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Fee sought to aid child advocacy


Wood County commissioners continued to work their way through budget requests last week on Monday and Thursday. They have more workshops set this week. 

On July 20, Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center (NETCAC), near Winnsboro, was represented by Executive Director Imelda Tatsch and Program Director Martha Dykes. The organization, which serves eight counties in Northeast Texas, has seen a big downturn in funding since the advent of COVID-19 shutdowns and regulations. Their fundraising has been severely affected because of the pandemic, and Tatsch and Dykes sought relief during the workshop. 

Wood County can collect a fee with resident’s vehicle registrations to go toward programs which promote child safety. School crossing guards are at the top of the list for the funds, but in counties where they might not have crossing guards, the money can be used for other activities which make children safer. The program was created by the 72nd Texas Legislature in 1991 and allows counties to collect from 50 cents to $1.50 from vehicle registrations.

“Our children come to us from law enforcement, child protective services, district attorneys for children who have been sexually abused, or any other type of child abuse,” Tatsch said. “Many of our kids come from Wood County. This year has been very slow in reporting because of the COVID.”

Tatsch further explained what the organization is looking at when school finally begins.

“Kids are not in school and they are not in activities. When school does start again, where children will have adults to talk to we are going to see a huge increase in children needing our services,” Tatsch reported. “We know this, because in a normal school year we have spring break and after that we always see an increase. We also have a rising number right after school starts and after Christmas break. That’s the reason we are asking for this help with the funding.”

Tatsch said funding has been tough this year.

“Our grants were cut this year and this would help us tremendously. Last year in Wood County there were 53,370 vehicle registrations. At a dollar that would be over $53,000. You do have the option of taking 10% off the top for administrative fees and the remainder could come to the center,” Tatsch added. “The things we could do with the money would be amazing, we could do a lot. I’ve been at the center for almost 19 years myself. I have seen a lot of changes and have seen some horrific things that have come through, some unbelievable. It is a passion for us and we want to do everything we can for our children and families that come through and then we have follow-up care.”

Tatsch reported fundraisers for the advocacy center have been canceled due to the COVID-19 restrictions. The organization gets money through grants, community donations and county allocations.

“Donations are way down from our churches in honorariums and memorials. We have a couple of big events that happen in other counties that helps to fund us, but we don’t know if they will even happen this year,” Tatsch noted. “We had to move our big golf tournament from May to October and we don’t know if that will actually happen yet. We had a father-daughter dance planned we had to cancel. Donations are down because people have to hold on to their money right now.”

After the lengthy discussion with the NETCAC representatives, commissioners discussed county property in the building which at one time housed the old Westerner Café. It is used for storage of various types of county property. Concerning items stored at the site, County Auditor Terri Sellars stated, “We can donate to a non-profit in the county. We could sell it off by auction.”

Commissioners spoke briefly about District Clerk Donna Huston’s request for part-time help in her office. They discussed the possibility of being able to fund the position and how it could be done. They will look at it closer when all the final numbers are in after the workshops to see what they can or can’t fund.