TYLER, Texas (KETK) – The Smith County District Attorney’s Office presented a $20,000 check to the Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County on Monday in downtown Tyler.

This donation will contribute to a capital campaign to provide space to serve the growing number of children going to the advocacy center.

The Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County helps child victims of physical and sexual abuse. They work to “reduce trauma through a unified effort that facilitates thorough investigations, effective prosecutions and the healing of the children and their families.”

“These kids need the right place to go,” fundraising team chair Brent Jasper said. “They need to feel safe, they need to feel loved, and I believe that we can do that with a much better space in the future.”

Last year, the CASC did 873 forensic interviews, which shows a 163% increase in the past eight years.

“The number of [people] who are abused as children and never get help has a long-term effect on our community,” Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putnam said. “As much as we wish they would, this trauma is not the kind of thing you forget or grow out of.”

Putnam said that the expansion of the building will help restore the community for generations.

“People often get overwhelmed when they hear about the evil in the world that is all around them and think there is nothing they can do,” Putnam said. “But there is something we can do! [The expansion of the building] will be a significant step to improving Tyler and Smith County for generations to come.”

The gift from the district attorney’s office is from asset forfeiture funds, so it is at no cost to taxpayers. The State of Texas allows the donation of seized funds to worthy non-profits.

The Smith County DA’s Office is part of a team that facilitates investigations into physical and sexual abuse cases.

More information about the Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County can be found on their website.