By Cara Beth Lewis
North Carolina Guardian ad Litem is a program that advocates for abused and neglected children in court. With their training complete, Bladen County has two new student child advocates who will champion the needs and wishes of abused and neglected children as their voice in court.
Mikaila Banks of Clarkton, NC, is a Social Work major at Fayetteville State University and will join the Guardian ad Litem program as an intern.
Mary Maines of Ash, NC, is a graduate student at Liberty University and committed to supporting Bladen County, where volunteers are greatly needed.
More than 1,700 abused and neglected children go to court in North Carolina each year without someone there to speak up for them and their best interests. More volunteers are needed by the Guardian ad Litem program to advocate for these children in need.
According to their website, the GAL volunteer’s primary responsibilities include:
- Digging for details in the case
- Collaborating with other participants in the case
- Recommending what’s best for a child by writing court reports
- Empowering the child’s voice
- Staying vigilant by constantly monitoring the case
- Keeping all information confidential
The primary qualification for becoming a GAL is to have a sincere concern for the well-being of children. There are no education or experience requirements.
GAL volunteer advocates commit to serving on a child’s case until permanence is achieved, and cases usually take at least a year to be resolved. To apply, you must complete an application, a screening interview, and a criminal record check. We also require at least 30 hours of training before a volunteer candidate is accepted into the program. After acceptance, GAL volunteers are sworn in by a judge and appointed to a case. Our volunteers are supervised by program staff and are expected to attend continuing education training on advocacy issues during service to the local program.
Fill out your application today at www.volunteerforgal.org.