As we reflect on the year and our accomplishments and blessings, I want to take the opportunity to thank all of our selfless and dedicated volunteers with the Guardian ad Litem Program here in McDowell County. Without these wonderful people working to help advocate for children, many of these kids would not benefit from caring adults to fight for them only, and their right to grow up in a safe and secure home.
Since Jan. 1, 98 children have entered the Guardian ad Litem program in McDowell County, with a total of 125 children currently involved in the program. This means that 125 kids are alleged to have been abused/neglected and are now involved with the Department of Social Services and in the court system. Through no fault of their own, these kids are typically removed from their homes and placed in foster care or a kinship placement. Imagine how scary and overwhelming this could be for a child. The wonderful GAL volunteers work with these children and let them tell their side of the story. They listen to them and fight for what they want and what would be best for them.
There are many parties in a Department of Social Services abuse/neglect case: The judge, parents/caretakers, parents’ attorneys, DSS attorneys, GAL attorneys, investigative/in-home/foster care social workers – it’s easy to see how the kids get lost in the system. That’s where the role of the Guardian ad Litem comes in: to advocate and ensure the voice of the child is heard in court, that their wishes for permanency and best interest are made known to all parties.
The goal for the GAL program across the state of North Carolina is to have a caring, supportive volunteer available to work with every child that needs advocacy. With so many kids in the GAL program across the state, often there are not enough volunteers available to represent children’s best interests in court.
Could you be the voice for a child? There is no experience necessary, and we provide all training and support. Being a GAL is a challenging and demanding role, but also incredibly rewarding as you literally ensure the child’s voice is heard in court throughout the life of the case.
Our next training begins January 28, 2019 – visit www.volunteerforgal.org to complete a volunteer application, or call the office at 828-652-4632 for more information.
We look forward to you joining our team of dedicated and remarkable child advocates!