MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The most minor cases touch your heart. The more severe cases break it. However, making a difference is what makes getting involved so worthwhile,
All the cases in the court system involving the abuse, neglect or abandonment of children need someone to be a voice for those children. .The Guardian ad Litem program is currently seeking volunteers to be those voices. A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is a trained volunteer appointed by the court to advocate on behalf of a child. The GAL becomes familiar with the child’s case and makes recommendations to help ensure a safe, stable and permanent environment for the child.
“Around 1,400 children in Lake, Sumter, Marion, Hernando and Citrus counties have been removed from their homes due to abuse, abandonment or neglect. GAL volunteers make a profound difference in the lives of these children by helping judges decide whether a child should be reunited with his or her family, remain in foster care or in the worst of circumstances, placed for adoption,” said Marcia Hilty, Circuit Director of GAL Program for 5th Judicial Circuit. “They make sure important services are provided. Simply put, a GAL volunteer makes sure everyone does what is best for the child.”
Research has shown that when a child whose case is being heard in dependency court is assigned to a Guardian ad Litem, they spend less time in foster care and do better in school. Unfortunately, there are more children in the system than volunteers to serve them. On average, volunteers should spend five to ten hours a month on a case, and most cases last 10 months. The volunteer works as part of a team including a volunteer supervisor and program attorney.
The next Guardian at Litem volunteer trainings for this area are March 27, 28, or 29 at the Ocala Police Department, For more information contact Sarah Jay at 352-274-5231 or Sarah.Jay@gal.fl.gov. or visit www.guardianadlitem.org.