Image

WHAT IS A GUARDIAN AD LITEM?

Thousands of abused and neglected children become the subject of judicial proceedings each year in Florida. Their voices are often unheard, and best interests overlooked in the court process. Guardians Ad Litem are citizens who volunteer to become part of a court program to represent the best interests of an assigned child. A Guardian Ad Litem does not have to be a lawyer, counselor, therapist, or parent, since he/she does not perform these roles for the child. The volunteer Guardian Ad Litem is a representative for the child before the court, social service agencies and the community.

Every volunteer is guided and supported by a Child Advocacy Manager, a staff member who assists the volunteer and guides their work. A Best Interest Attorney, who can file motions and proceedings before the Court, also supports every volunteer.

Guardian ad Litem volunteers, assigned by the court, offer judges the critical information they need by making independent recommendations.  These volunteers focus on the needs of each child and continue to advocate until the child is placed in loving permanent home. Our GAL volunteers prevent children from becoming stranded in the courts and foster care. These abused children with volunteers have one consistent person advocating for them until they are either reunified with their parents or adopted.

The Guardian Ad Litem volunteer child advocate serves in a variety of roles:

  • A Guardian ad Litem is a Fact Finder: They independently conduct a thorough investigation on behalf of the child. They interview many people including the child, their parents, mental health professionals, neighbors, teachers, church members, law enforcement, and friends. The Guardian Ad Litem also examines and collects records from many sources concerning the child.
  • The Guardian Ad Litem is a Monitor: The Guardian assures that orders of the Court are carried out, and that families and children in need receive the help that they should.
  • The Guardian Ad Litem is an Advocate: Guardians writes reports for the courts and assures that the child’s wishes are heard, and that the best interest of the child is presented to the
    Court and agencies dealing with the child.

History of the Program

The State of Florida Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) Program resulted from the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974. In 1980, the Florida Legislature appropriated funds to the Office of the State Courts Administrator to implement a pilot program that would examine the effectiveness of a volunteer based program for the delivery of guardian ad litem services for abused and neglected children. The evaluation report of the pilot program concluded that the volunteer model, consisting of lay persons recruited, trained, and supervised by professional staff, was a feasible, economical, and effective means of providing guardian ad litem services to Florida's abused and neglected children.

In subsequent years, the Legislature provided funding for the establishment of guardian ad litem programs in every circuit to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children through a volunteer model. By 1990, all of Florida's twenty judicial circuits had volunteer-based programs for the delivery of guardian ad litem services that were administratively managed by the trial courts.

For more information: contact (321) 690-6823 or email Stafford.Slaughter@brevardfl.gov.

 

.

YOU CAN BE A GUARDIAN AD LITEM

Become a Guardian ad Litem

We see news stories everyday about children taken from an abusive home, or because of the tragic loss of a parent-to illness or violence or incarceration. Many children in the child welfare system lose their families, their rights and their hope. Join our fight to make sure they don’t and change child’s life today! Guardian ad Litem volunteers are central to fulfilling society’s most fundamental obligation by making sure that every child has a voice in court and a qualified compassionate adult fighting for them to have a safe and permanent home with the opportunity to thrive.

Right here in Brevard County, almost 1,000 foster children are in front of the courts a year. At any given time, there are over 200 kids waiting to be appointed a volunteer advocate. By helping us support them you will not only change the life of one of the 200 children waiting for an advocate but also have a lasting impact in the future of our community.

Who Can Be a Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Child Advocate?
Volunteers must be at least 21 years old, and have no record of a felony or judicial finding of guilt for a crime against persons, and no prior history of abuse or neglect of a child or adult. A GAL does not have to be a lawyer, counselor, therapist or parent.

There are four required steps in the process to apply to be a volunteer:

  1. Speak to our to Volunteer Recruiter to learn more: To learn more about the vital role our volunteers play in the lives of abused and neglected children, contact Stafford Slaughter at (321) 690-6823 or email Stafford.Slaughter@brevardfl.gov.
  2. Complete a volunteer application: The application process includes a criminal background screening and requires you to provide references. Here is the link to our online application: https://fl-18th.evintosolutions.com/VolunteerApplication  
  3. Interview: Once your application is complete, you will complete a screening interview with a staff member. Applicants who successfully complete the interview process will then begin our training program.
  4. Complete training: Our training class consists of online work, two class days, two hours of court observation and work with a mentor. Before signing up for a training class, you must complete application, arrange an interview and will be given fingerprint instructions. At the completion of classroom training, you will be paired with a Child Advocacy Manager and with a mentor for field support. Contact Stafford Slaughter at (321) 690-6823 or email Stafford.Slaughter@brevardfl.gov for dates of upcoming training and to begin the process.
2018 Guardian Ad Litem Training Schedule:

Our training class is 30 hours and consists of online work, two class days, 2 hrs of court observation and work with a mentor. Before signing up for a training class, you must complete application, arrange an interview and will be given fingerprint instructions.

Before each class, application and interview must be complete. Class consists of both dates.

Click here for Volunteer Application

Must Attend Both Days

2018 Training Dates:

January 29, 30                                                                                                                  

March 23, 24 

May 8, 9 

July 13, 14                                                                                                                        

September 25, 26                                                                                                             

November 2, 3

About the Guardian ad Litem Program

Thousands of abused, abandoned and neglected children become the subject of judicial proceedings each year in Florida. Their voices are often unheard and best interests overlooked in the complicated and overburdened adversary process. Guardians ad Litem (GAL) are citizens who volunteer to become part of a court program to represent the best interests of an assigned child. The volunteer Guardian ad Litem is a representative for the child before the court, social service agencies and the community. He/she also protects the child during the family crisis, court proceedings, and follows the child’ progress.

About Friends of Children of Brevard

Friends of Children funds clothing, beds, bikes, computers, diapers, school supplies, luggage, holiday gifts, duffle bags and other items not provided by government agencies. We also provide these children with some basic opportunities and access to normal childhood activities.

 

Please publish modules in offcanvas position.