ALACHUA COUNTY - Alachua County's Guardian Ad Litem Program is seeking volunteers to make a lifelong difference to a child by acting as a Guardian Ad Litem. A Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is a court appointed volunteer who advocates for the best interests of a child. The GAL becomes familiar with the child and the child's case and makes recommendations to the court to help ensure a safe, caring, stable and permanent environment.
All children should grow up in a safe, permanent home. Unfortunately, nearly 1,100 children in Alachua County are not so lucky. Through no fault of their own, children in the GAL Program have been removed from their homes because of alleged abuse, abandonment or neglect. They are placed into the dependency court system with no voice of their own.
A Guardian Ad Litem volunteers to be their voice. The role of a Guardian Ad Litem is:
Information Gatherer: Collects all pertinent information and interviews family, friends, neighbors and other persons involved in the child's life.
Community Advocate: Works with community partners to ensure the child is receiving the assistance and support needed to be successful.
Courtroom Advocate: Based on the information gathered, makes independent recommendations to the court and becomes the voice of the child, communicating the best interest of the child.
No special or legal background is required--just a willingness and passion to help a child. Many children are in need of an ordinary person to do an extraordinary thing--to become a child advocate.
Guardian Ad Litem provides 30 hours of classroom and online training, to become the voice for a child. The next volunteer training sessions will be June 14, 19, 21, 25, and 27. Classes are 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.