A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) advocate is a trained community volunteer who is appointed, along with a Guardian ad Litem attorney, by a district court judge to investigate and determine the needs of abused and neglected children petitioned into the court system by the Department of Social Services. Their role is mandated by North Carolina General Statute 7B-601.
Throughout North Carolina, the Guardian ad Litem Program seeks to serve the best interests of thousands of children who find themselves the subjects of court cases by assigning them Guardian ad Litem volunteers. Our program exists in every county throughout the state, and with the help of more than 5,300 volunteers, we serve more than 18,000 children a year.
GAL Responsibilities, Qualifications and Requirements The GAL volunteer’s primary responsibilities include:
- Digging for details in the case
- Collaborating with other participants in the case
- Recommending what’s best for child by writing court reports
- Empowering the child’s voice
- Staying vigilant by constantly monitoring the case
- Keeping all information confidential
The main qualification for becoming a GAL is to have a sincere concern for the well-being of children. There are no education or experience requirements.
A guardian ad litem serves on a child’s case until a permanent plan is approved by the court and achieved for the child. Achieving permanence usually takes at least a year. Monthly time commitments vary depending on the child’s needs.
In order to apply, you need to complete an application, a screening interview, and a criminal record check. We also require 30 hours of training before being accepted into the program, sworn in by a judge and appointed to a case. Our volunteers are supervised by program staff, and attend continuing education training on advocacy issues.