The Pensacola Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) program is in need of volunteers. The program has over 1700 children in need of an individual who can speak for them in court.
What Is A Guardian Ad Litem
With the areas court system employees being overworked and with not enough paid social workers on board, the Florida Court system recognized the need for individual volunteers to help children and speak for them in court. A Guardian Ad Litem is a volunteer who has a genuine interest in developing a relationship with a child. That person will gain the respect and confidence of the child. From there, they work to speak as an advocate for the child during court proceedings.
What Are the Qualifications to Become A Guardian Ad Litem
Anyone who loves children, is genuinely concerned for the welfare of a child, has the ability to maintain a loving relationship, can gain the confidence of a child, has the time, is concerned about the well being of a child and is committed to being there for a child until a home is found is qualified to become a Guardian Ad Litem.
What Are the Ethical Requirements of a Guardian Ad Litem
A Guardian Ad Litem volunteer must respect the differences of others. What is meant by this? Each volunteer must be able to remain impartial when meeting with people of different races, levels of education and economic backgrounds. A GAL must be objective, impartial and non-judgmental.
Is A Guardian Ad Litem Volunteer Required to Have a Degree or Be an Attorney
No. Anyone with a love for children, the ability to reason, has compassion, understanding and is dedicated to children and their needs can become a GAL.
Does One have To Commit A Certain Amount of Time As a Guardian Ad Litem
A GAL volunteer must take 30 hours of training to become certified. After the 30 hours is completed, 6 hours are required yearly to recertify each volunteer to update skills. All GAL volunteers must work at least six hours monthly at their assigned cases to obtain information or spending time with their client.
What Is the Role Of A Guardian Ad Litem
A GAL must first investigate to provide an objective, systematic analysis of a child’s situation. This will entail obtaining background information regarding the issues and individuals involved. Determine the environment the child is living in. Analyze the relationship of all parties relative to the child. Prepare a needs analysis for the court. In order to provide the court with the information necessary to make a determination, the GAL must interview family members, friends of the family, neighbors and the child’s teachers and friends at school.
A GAL will also determine resources and services available for the child. They will make recommendations to the proper authorities if a relationship can be maintained between the parties involved. The GAL will determine and provide for the child’s needs through the court (financial, emotional and educational) to be met.
A GAL is the advocate who speaks for the child in court. The GAL will also speak for the child when other entities are involved. In addition, the GAL monitors the success of the child while the case is active. When the court has made a determination, the GAL follows through until there is no additional need for his or her services.
Finally, a Guardian Ad Litem is required to visit the child on a regular basis, guide the child and provide encouragement. The GAL also gathers information, assesses the status of the child determining any issues or concerns, reviews records, keeps updated on child’s success while in the courts care, determines and recommends options available if a return to the family is not possible, recommends to the court what is in the best interest of the child, attends and participates in all court proceedings or meetings, maintains records of all activities, meetings, hearing or interviews held for court analysis.
At present, only 475 or 36 percent of the children in the Pensacola Court system are being represented by a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer.
For more information on becoming a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer, contact the First Judicial Circuit Court at 1800 West St Mary’s, Pensacola, Fl or call (850) 595-1157.
Pensacola Guardian Ad Litem