What is a Guardian ad Litem?
What do Guardians ad Litem do?
Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteers get to know the child and everyone involved in the child’s life, including family, teachers, doctors, social workers and others. They gather information about the child and what the child needs. Their recommendations to the court help the judge make an informed decision about a child’s future. GAL volunteers provide a stable presence in a child’s life, remaining on each case until the child finds a safe, permanent home.
Who can serve as a volunteer GAL?
GAL volunteers are people like you. Some volunteers work full time, some are retired, some are students, some are teachers, some are grandparents; but they are all extraordinary people who want to make the voices of abused and neglected children heard.
Why are there volunteer GALs in court?
In South Carolina, children are not present when decisions about their futures are being made. GAL volunteers bridge that gap and tell the judge what children want, without children having to experience trauma in a courtroom setting.
How do volunteer GALs make a difference in a child’s life?
The benefits that GALs provide have been well documented. A 2006 audit conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General demonstrates that once a volunteer is assigned, approximately:
• 95% of children do not languish in long-term foster care.
• 90% of children never re-enter the child welfare system.