You can make a difference in the life of a child...
A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is a trained community member appointed by a district court judge to investigate and determine
the needs of abused and neglected children and youth petitioned into the court system by the Department of Social
Services. The GAL is paired with an Attorney Advocate to represent the child’s best interest in court.
- Gathering and assess independent information about the child’s needs by getting to know the child
- Interviewing parents, caretakers, social workers, teachers and service providers
- Reading records related to the child and family
- Seeking cooperative solutions with other participants in the child’s case
- Communicating with the GAL Attorney Advocate to develop legal strategies and prepare for court
- Attending court hearings and other meetings
- Writing child-focused reports for court hearings
- Making recommendations in the child’s best interest
- Testifying to support recommendations or inform the court of changes in the child’s situation
- Empowering the Child’s Voice by ensuring that the court knows the child’s wishes
- Keeping the child informed about the court proceedings
- Facilitating the child’s participation in court hearings
- Staying vigilant by monitoring the situation on an ongoing basis
- Consulting with local program staff for support and guidance
- Keeping all records and information confidential
A Guardian ad Litem possesses:
- A sincere concern for the well-being of children
- A commitment to advocate for a child until a safe and permanent home is established and court involvement is no longer required
- The ability to be objective and non-judgmental
- The ability to interact respectfully with people from diverse economic, educational, and ethnic backgrounds
- Good verbal and written communication skills
A guardian ad litem serves on a child’s case until a permanent plan is approved by the court and achieved for the child. Achieving permanence usually takes at least a year. Monthly time commitments vary depending on the child’s needs.
In order to become a GAL, you will need to complete:
- an application
- a screening interview with program staff
- a criminal record check
GAL candidates successfully complete 30 hours of training before being accepted into the program, sworn in by a judge and appointed to advocate on behalf of a child. In addition to advocating for the child, GALs attend continuing education trainings on advocacy issues.
Guardians ad Litem are supervised by program staff.
For a printable volunteer job description, please click here