Are you looking for a volunteer opportunity to help change the life of a child?

Guardian ad Litem volunteers advocate for abused and neglected children, making sure kids do not get lost in the overburdened legal and social service systems or languish in foster homes. Volunteers advocate for the children until their court case is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home.

For many abused children, their GAL volunteer is the one constant adult presence in their lives. Intense advocacy can break the cycle of abuse and neglect.

Children who are abused and do not get the support they need to heal are more likely than other kids to drop out of school, end up homeless, turn to crime, and rely as adults on social welfare programs. When the community works together to protect vulnerable children, it saves lives and tax dollars.

Decades ago, when the federal government decided to provide advocates to children in abuse and neglect proceedings, it endorsed a model where citizens could bring a common-sense perspective to court proceedings and children wouldn’t be treated as just another case number.

Children needed advocates who prioritized their safety and well-being – people who put the child’s best interests first. This was the start of Guardian ad Litem. In Florida, this model has flourished due to the consistent support of citizens, the judiciary, governors, state and local governments and charitable organizations.

If you are interested in becoming a Guardian ad Litem volunteer, contact Amarilys Ortega at 352-817-1546 or email her at amarilys.ortetga@gal.fl.gov. Visit www.guardianadlitem.org for more information.