What is a Guardian
ad Litem and what do they do?
A Guardian ad Litem is a court appointed, trained volunteer
who advocates for the best interest of an abused, abandoned
or neglected child. Most of the children have been removed
from their home and are with relatives, friends, or
in foster care. Together with the support and guidance
of the GAL Program Staff and GAL Attorneys, GAL Volunteers
strengthen the voice of the child and ensure they do
not become lost in the system. The ‘Guardian’:
- Visits the child a minimum of once a month and most
importantly – listens to the child.
- Gathers information about the case
- Interviews those involved in the child’s life and
- Works with community partners to ensure the child
is receiving the assistance and support they need
- Makes recommendations to the court based on the
- Works to ensure the child does not get overlooked
or lost in the system
- Provides the child a voice in the court and represents
what is in the child’s best interest.
The “Guardian” is the one constant in the child’s
life during this often lengthy process.
What are the qualifications for a Guardian ad
If you have a desire to help children, are concerned
for the well being of children, and willing to advocate
for their best interests, GAL and the children need
you. Guardian ad Litem volunteers come from many diverse
educational, economic, ethnic and employment backgrounds.
You must be 19 years of age and have a clear criminal
background. Other than those basic requirements, no
special education or experience is required. 30 hours
of training is provided to receive Guardian ad Litem
certification. Training is provided free.
How will I know what to do and who will help
me if I need help?
As a Guardian ad Litem Volunteer you will receive training
and support from a team of full time GAL professionals.
The Guardian ad Litem Program offers 30 hours of free
training for Guardian ad Litem Certification. The certification
course is a nationally recognized program and is designed
to provide you with the knowledge and confidence needed
to quickly become a strong advocate. Continuing education
classes are also offered monthly on a variety of related
topics. Following course completion, you will be assigned
to a GAL Case Manager who will assist you with your
case, when needed. Your GAL Case Manager will always
be there for you when you have questions or concerns
about your case. In addition to your GAL Case Manager
you will also have the support and expertise of GAL
If I’m employed full-time, can I still be a
Guardian ad Litem?
Yes, many GAL Volunteers have full-time commitments.
Much of the work can be done over the phone, after hours
and weekends. Generally, you will have advanced notice
regarding court dates. If you have concerns regarding
your time commitment feel free to discuss with one of
the GAL Staff members.
What if I’m a ‘snow bird’?
We have many ‘snow bird’ volunteers. There is a support
system within the GAL Program to address these needs
and provide advocacy and court representation in your
What is the time commitment for a Guardian
ad Litem volunteer?
The initial training period to be certified as a Guardian
ad Litem is 30 hours. These classes are offered monthly,
generally over a two week period. Only six hours of
continuing education are required for annual re-certification.
Continuing education classes are offered monthly for
Volunteer convenience, in addition to other continuing
education opportunities. Once you are assigned a case
the average time commitment is 8 to 12 hours monthly.
This would include information gathering, reviewing
reports, visiting the child and possible court appearance.
Each case is different so the time commitment can vary,
but generally a newly assigned case will take a little
more time because you will be getting to know the child
and learning about the case. Other cases may take less
time depending on the situation and length of time the
case has been open.
Am I required to take a certain number of cases?
No, there is no minimum or maximum case requirement.
Each GAL Volunteer works within their comfort level
by accepting only as many cases as they feel they can
effectively handle. Your GAL Case Manager can also assist
in your decision making.
Will I be involved in court proceedings?
Yes and with your training you will have the knowledge
and confidence to effectively write reports and offer
your recommendations to the Court. During your training
you even get to observe Court sessions where other GAL
Volunteers are advocating on a child’s behalf. You will
always have your GAL Case Manager to help you with any
cases or concerns. Additionally, a Guardian ad Litem
Attorney is always with you in court.
How will the Judge and/or Magistrate respond
Guardian ad Litem Volunteers are highly respected in
the judicial system. During every case the Judge and/or
Magistrate will address the GAL Volunteer and ask if
they have any recommendations. Your recommendations
and your status within the Court is equal to those of
How will parents or caregivers respond to me?
Many of the children will have been removed from their
homes and will be with a relative or in foster care.
These individuals are always interested in the children’s
best interest and are very cooperative and helpful.
Also, surprisingly, for the children that remain with
their parents, because of the circumstances and fear
of losing their children, parents are generally cooperative
What about safety?
Your safety is always top priority. We would never ask
you to go anywhere or do anything that might jeopardize
your safety. As you would normally do, use good common
sense and take reasonable precautions when making decisions.
You will learn in training who to contact and who you
can work with if you encounter a situation or location
in which you feel uncomfortable.
May I take a child to a movie or other outing?
No. As a Guardian ad Litem your responsibility is not
to provide services, but to gather information and observe
so you can be an effective advocate for the child. GAL
Volunteers are not allowed to transport children. During
training you will gain an even better understanding
of the rationale behind this and the Code of Conduct
within which GAL Volunteers perform their duties.
Are there other ways I can volunteer to help
children without taking a case?
Yes, there are many ways that you can help the Guardian
ad Litem Program and in turn help children. To learn
more about other opportunities to help click
What if I have more questions?
Call (772) 785-5804 or visit our Guardian ad Litem Program
Office, 1850 SW Fountainview Blvd.,
Port St. Lucie, FL 34986
How do I get started?
Please complete the Guardian
ad Litem application