BECOME A GUARDIAN AD LITEM
In 1977, Seattle judge David Soukup was determined to make informed decisions about the welfare of foster children in his jurisdiction. He established the concept of using trained volunteers to provide information about and advocate in the interests of abused and neglected children involved in the court system. He called these volunteers Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).
Only two years later, the Jacksonville chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women established the Jacksonville Child Abuse Task Force, and the Junior League of Jacksonville was awarded one of three national grants to create a pilot program. This coalition’s goal was to secure funding that would be used to recruit and train volunteers without a background in law to serve as Guardians ad Litem (GAL). Three months later, Jacksonville’s Guardian office opened in the State Attorney’s office under the supervision of Helene Coleman.
An independent evaluation, administered in 1981, concluded that this volunteer program could be the least expensive and most effective means of providing representation to abused and neglected children. After 18 months, the grant funding expired and the CASA model was integrated into the GAL program. The state Legislature then appropriated money to expand the program statewide.
It is only through our volunteers and their hard work that the Guardian ad Litem Program can continue to advocate for children as well as for the systemic changes necessary to protect our community’s abused, neglected and abandoned children.
Guardians, or child advocate volunteers, are responsible for gathering facts surrounding a child’s case, reviewing reports, visiting a child’s home, school or placement and providing the court with an unbiased recommendation on what is required to serve the best interests of the child. They champion to stop child abuse in Florida. To become a certified Guardian, volunteers must pass background checks, provide three letters of reference, participate in an interview and complete 30 hours of training.
Every child needs a hero. Abused, neglected and abandoned children need a Superhero! Complete the volunteer form on the right to begin changing a child’s life.
Duval, Clay, & Nassau Counties
4TH CIRCUIT VOLUNTEER