Submitted by Suanne Z. Thamm
Reporter – News Analyst
May 5, 2020

The Guardian ad Litem Program serves as the exclusive advocate for children in the court system in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties. Volunteer Guardians ad Litem are court-appointed special advocates whose job is to serve as the voice of the child — a voice that is separate from the child’s family members, foster care providers, attorneys or social workers.

Guardians ad Litem make a profound impact on the children they serve and the communities those children call home. Children with a Guardian ad Litem are:

  • More likely to be adopted
  • Half as likely to re-enter foster care
  • Less likely to spend time in long-term foster care
  • More likely to have a plan for permanency
  • More like to perform well in school

The Guardian ad Litem Program is supported by the Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Florida’s First Coast, Inc. The Foundation functions as a charity for children in the court systems of Jacksonville and surrounding areas. It has many functions:

  • Raises awareness about abused, neglected and abandoned children
  • Assists in recruiting and supporting the GAL Program and volunteers
  • Provides funding to support training and retention of volunteers
  • Provides support for staff and volunteers
  • Provides necessities for children

The Guardian Ad Litem program is always in need of a powerful voice for abused or neglected Children.  For more information about the program and how you can help, visit their website https://galfirstcoast.org .  Volunteer Guardians ad Litem complete comprehensive training to learn how to observe children, parents and foster families. Their recommendations are critical to a judge’s analysis and final ruling on the fate of a child. In 4 out of 5 cases, all or almost all of the recommendations made by a Guardian ad Litem are accepted by the court. The program  provides the necessary training and program coordination for their volunteers.

Florida State Senators Aaron Bean and Audrey Gibson have prepared a video showing their support, and inviting others to help. 

Please consider volunteering with the Guardian ad Litem Program. Committed volunteers are a voice of compassion and care on a child’s behalf.

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