April is Guardian ad Litem Child Advocate Month in North Carolina. The North Carolina 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 Advocate Month acknowledges the importance of families and communities working together to advocate for children while preventing child abuse and neglect. During the month, communities across the state come together to promote child abuse prevention 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.,” said North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Administrator Cindy Bizzell. “Last year, 5,443 volunteers were appointed with attorney advocates to represent nearly 18,000 children in 64,070 child abuse and neglect hearings. Volunteers generally work behind the scenes, so we want to take this time to publicly recognized their contribution.”
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 virtual events throughout the state to recognize and celebrate the volunteers who advocate for children every day. These virtual 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?
More than 2,000 abused and neglected children and youth in North Carolina went to court without a volunteer assigned at the end of FY2019-20. Volunteer to become a Guardian ad Litem Advocate and be the voice for a child. Learn more and apply to volunteer at volunteerforgal.org