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Frequently Asked Questions

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 case
  • Works with community partners to ensure the child is receiving the assistance and support they need
  • Makes recommendations to the court based on the information gathered
  • 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 Litem?
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 Program Attorneys.

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 absence.

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 to me?
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 the Attorneys.

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 as well.

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 here.

What if I have more questions?
Call (772) 785-5804 or visit our Guardian ad Litem Program Office, 1850 SW Fountainview Blvd., Suite 201, Port St. Lucie, FL 34986

How do I get started?
Please complete the Guardian ad Litem application

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