"I hope that all Guardians ad Litem make sure that the child that they are advocating for is heard. Being heard is very important to any individual, particularly to children placed in foster care. Even if their wishes are not granted, at least they know they were heard. I am so thankful for my Guardian ad Litem. I would not change that for the world. She gave me drive to keep going in life and I hope that my success gives her the drive to keep doing the wonderful job she does for future children." Kendra, age 18
In 1983, the North Carolina Legislature created a program to give children involved with child protective services an independent voice and to advocate for abused and neglected children involved in court proceedings. Throughout North Carolina, thousands of children come to the attention of the courts each year because of abuse, neglect or abandonment. Their ages range from birth to 18 years. Many are hurt and afraid. Some are in foster homes awaiting decisions about what will happen to them.
A judge appoints a volunteer Guardian ad Litem and an Attorney Advocate for each child. The Guardian ad Litem investigates the case and makes recommendations to the judge about safe placement and special services. A Guardian ad Litem program staffperson supervises the volunteer Guardian ad Litem. The team works together to protect the child's legal rights and to advocatefor the child's best interests.
Could you step in and speak up for a neglected or abused children court?
Could you spare a few hours a week to help build a child's future?
If you answered yes, you can become a Guardian ad Litem for one of these children and use your strong voice to make sure that the child's needs are at the forefront of every decision made in the case.
This year in North Carolina, an increasing number of children will need someone to give them a voice and see that their best interests are served.
Many volunteer Guardians ad Litem are employed full-time, but the flexibility of the Guardian ad Litem role makes it possible for them to find time to make a difference in the lives of children.
These children need the services of a volunteer advocate who is committed to seeing them through the court and child protective services system.
Guardian ad Litem Qualifications
ü sincere concern for the welfare of children.
ü continuing commitment to advocate for a child until a safe and permanent home is obtained
ü mature adult of sound character with good verbal and written communication skills.
ü objective, nonjudgmental and able to interact with people of various educational, economic and ethnic backgrounds
ü able to commit to at least four to six hours each month to work on a child’s case
How to Become a Guardian ad Litem
ü complete and submit a volunteer application
ü provide three personal and/or professional references
ü undergo a criminal record check.
ü complete a personal interview with a GAL staff member
ü complete 30 hours of required volunteer training, including court observation
ü take an oath of service before a district court judge
For more information, please visit www.volunteerforgal.org