An ever increasing number of children are being removed from their homes due to neglect. Children in these situations are in need of court appointed advocates who visit with them on a monthly basis and maintain contact with their designated Department of Social Services social worker and other service providers. Additionally, court appointed advocates write reports for the purposes of informing the judge of the children’s current needs and wishes, while also making recommendations as to what is in the children’s best interest. This court appointed advocate is also known as a Guardian ad Litem (“ad litem” meaning, for the purposes of a legal action).
At this time, there are 103 children assigned to the Stokes Co. Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program and approximately 32 of these children are in need of a Guardian ad Litem volunteer. A Guardian ad Litem volunteer does not need to have prior social work or legal experience. A Guardian ad Litem volunteer must be at least 18 years of age, complete an on-line application at www.volunteerforgal.org, pass a criminal background check, complete an interview with the Guardian ad Litem supervisor and complete the free 30-hour training program (comprised of 15 hours of group sessions and 15 hours of on-line sessions). It is beneficial for a Guardian ad Litem to have basic computer skills and an email account.
The next Guardian ad Litem Training is scheduled to begin on Sept. 26, taking place every Tuesday at The Pilot Center in Pilot Mountain, NC for six consecutive weeks. Upon completion of this training program, Guardian ad Litem volunteers will be sworn in by a district court judge and assigned a case. Guardian ad Litem volunteers also have the assistance of a GAL supervisor who will support and guide them through the juvenile court process.
If you or somebody you know may be interested in becoming a court appointed advocate for children in need in Stokes Co., please contact Jaime Kehoe at 336-593-4415 or Jaime.L.Kehoe@nccourts.org.