The Guardian ad Litem Program is able to represent thousands of children with the help of volunteers. Program volunteers donate countless hours to the children they represent. The unique perspectives of volunteers, and their often creative solutions, are highly valued by the dependency court judges.
The Guardian ad Litem Program is a group of people who care about children. Guardians ad Litem (GALs) are volunteers, who are appointed by the Court to advocate (speak up) for the best interest of a child who has been abused, neglected, or abandoned. The majority of these children have been removed from their homes and placed with relatives or foster parents.
There are currently over 1300 children in the dependency court system in Hillsborough County who do NOT have a GAL to represent their best interest! It only takes between 10 and 15 hours per month to volunteer and “Be the Voice” for a child.
The Guardian ad Litem Program began in Hillsborough County in 1985. There are currently almost 700 volunteer Guardians ad Litem (GAL) that provide support and advocacy for the abused, neglected and abandoned children of Hillsborough County. As trained advocates, GAL volunteers and staff are appointed by judges to be a voice for children in court. GAL volunteers and staff represent the best interest of these children, monitoring their well-being and serving as trusted advisors in the courts. GAL helps to ensure the abuse and neglect these children suffered at home doesn’t continue at the hands of the system.
This system, with good intentions, attempts to decide what is best for these children. However, good intentions or not, it is a system overburdened by the sheer volume of the children and families that it is attempting to help.
The parents have to go through the court system to complete tasks to reach the goal of reunification with their children. Our volunteers and staff gather information from everyone involved in the children’s lives and report to the court our recommendation about what is in the child’s best interests. Our program strives every day to push the system to find permanent homes for kids, whether that is being reunified with the parents, permanent guardianship with a relative or adoption. Our Guardians ad Litem are often the only stable influence in the children’s lives.
Become a Guardian Ad Litem today! Our application is available at this link: https://fl-13th.evintosolutions.com/VolunteerApplication
If you have questions or need more information, please contact us. We’re more than happy to talk with you! Click the “Contact us” tab for phone and email contact information. We look forward to speaking with you soon.