April is Child Advocacy Month. The N.C. Judicial Branch and Office of Guardian ad Litem (GAL) are taking this opportunity to recognize the more than 5,000 GAL volunteers who help improve the lives of children and youth.
Child Advocacy Month, which is also National Child Abuse Prevention Month, acknowledges the importance of families and communities working together to advocate for children while preventing child abuse and neglect. During the month of April, communities come together to promote prevention across the country and to encourage the social and emotional well-being of children and families.
"Our GAL volunteers are changing lives by providing children a voice in court. Last year, 5,075 volunteers were appointed with attorney advocates to represent more than 17,000 children in 65,042 child abuse and neglect hearings. Volunteers generally work behind the scenes, so we want to take this time to publicly recognized their contribution," said Cindy Bizzell, Administrator, Guardian ad Litem Division, N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts.
A child with a GAL volunteer is more likely to find a safe, permanent home, is half as likely to re-enter the foster care system and is more likely to succeed in school.
This year, GAL is hosting events throughout the state to recognize and celebrate the volunteers that advocate for our children every day. We hope you will join us in honoring these volunteers and the children they support.
Scheduled events by county:
Monday, April 3 - Iredell County Courthouse steps, 1:00 p.m.
Monday, April 3 - Lenoir County Courthouse Atrium, 8:30 a.m.
Wednesday, April 5 - Caldwell County downtown square, 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 6 - Burke County downtown square, 4 p.m.
Thursday, April 13 - GAL hosts the Winston-Salem Dash first home game, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 15 - Bike Run: Robeson County Guardian ad Litem Program, 435 Caton Rd., Lumberton, NC 28358, 11 a.m. registration
Wednesday, April 19 - Golden Corral of Person County, 40 Weeks Dr., Roxboro, N.C. 27573, 9 a.m.
These events are planned and hosted at the local level through partnerships with Guardian ad Litem, judges, clerks of court, and other court agencies, partners, and community stakeholders.
About Guardian ad Litem
North Carolina Guardian ad Litem equips and trains community volunteers to serve as independent court advocates to represent and promote the best interests of abused and neglected children and youths by advocating for their best interests. The Office of Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Services is a division of the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts. Pursuant to G.S. 7B-601, when a petition alleging abuse or neglect of a juvenile is filed in district court, the judge appoints a volunteer Guardian ad Litem advocate and an attorney advocate to provide team representation to the child, who has full party status in trial and appellate proceedings.
Could you be the voice for a child?
In 2016, more than 2,320 abused and neglected children and youth in North Carolina went to court without someone to advocate just for them. Volunteer to become a Guardian ad Litem Advocate and be the voice for a child.