State of Florida - Guardian ad Litem Program
A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteer is a specially trained, child advocate whose dedicated advocacy ensures a dependent child’s safety, well-being, best interests and permanent placement. Working within a GAL team of Program staff and attorneys, and alongside community-based social workers and community service providers, a GAL volunteer serves as the "voice for the child" in judicial dependency proceedings and in helping the child navigate the foster/relative care system.
Direct guidance and coaching of volunteers are provided by a GAL Child Advocacy Coordinator (CAC) and a Child Best Interest Attorney. All of you work together within the Program’s team model of advocacy as stated in our Program’s Standards.
DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES (These are minimum, required duties and responsibilities))
A. Complete, extensive and independent research and review of each case:
Perform monthly child visits in accordance with Program standards and policies. This includes submitting a child visitation report to your CAC on a monthly basis.
Speak with the child and relevant adults (parents, family members, school officials, doctors, service providers and others involved in the child’s life that may have facts about the case.)
Observe the child in interactions with parents, relatives and non-relatives.
B. Report findings and child’s wishes to the court by submitting reports prepared in accordance with Florida Statutes, Program Standards and policies for scheduled hearings:
Provide a written report containing factual information that you have independently verified utilizing the Program’s court reporting standard. This report is developed in collaboration with your CAC and CBI Attorney.
C. Ensure representation of the child’s best interests:
Attend or participate by phone, when permitted by the court, in all court hearings to see that relevant facts are presented.
Attend appropriate interagency meetings, staffings and mediations pertaining to the child.
D. Monitor the case following a court hearing or decision as designated by the court:
Ensure that the judicial and child welfare systems are moving forward to secure a safe, permanent home for the child.
Ensure that court-ordered services are provided for the child and family.
E. Consult regularly with your CAC on matters pertaining to assigned case(s):
Review case progress and discuss and identify issues concerning the child that need to be resolved.
Immediately inform your CAC about issues that may impact the child’s safety and/or well-being.
TRAINING & SUPPORT PLAN
Volunteers are required to successfully complete the Program’s 30 hour pre-service training and 12 hours of in-service training annually.
Volunteers are required to adhere to the Program’s current Standards and the Guardian ad Litem Code of Conduct.
Volunteers may have access to additional training opportunities offered by other community agencies.
Volunteers receive direct coaching, mentoring and guidance from Program staff utilizing a team model of advocacy.
Volunteers will receive additional support through the use of local volunteer mentor programs.
Volunteers must keep in regular contact with their CAC regarding case progress or issues.
Volunteers are required to commit the necessary time to adequately complete their assigned case(s).
Volunteers, on average, spend an average 8-12 hours a month on each case.
Volunteers are expected to be available for case assignment and to accept cases as soon as possible upon completion of pre-service training.
Volunteers with a lapse of more than six months without an active case will lose their certification or may become a non-case volunteer as long as the volunteer accepts and agrees to perform another role within the Program.
QUALIFICATIONS, KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS & ABILITY
Demonstrates the ability to maintain confidentiality and adhere to the Program’s current Standards and Code of Conduct.
Demonstrates the ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.
Demonstrates the ability to respect people from various ethnic, cultural, religious, social and economic backgrounds.
Demonstrates the ability to maintain objectivity in stressful or emotional situations.
Possesses the basic understanding of child development and the dynamics of family relationships.
Exhibits good common sense
Must be 21 years of age or older. If age 19-20, volunteer may be certified as a Co-GAL to work with a volunteer over the age of 21.
Must successfully complete all phases of the Program application and training process including a national, criminal background check.
BENEFITS OF BECOMING A GAL VOLUNTEER
Although the Program cannot provide monetary rewards, there are many benefits to becoming a GAL volunteer. These include opportunities to:
Make a positive difference in the life and future of a child who has been a victim of abuse and/or neglect and make a meaningful impact in the local community.
Help a child find safety, nurturing and permanency in a loving home.
Help a judge to make important decisions about the life of a child by providing factual input and best interest recommendations to the court.
Gain an understanding of the legal child dependency and foster care systems.
Learn a new set of life skills that can help others and provide personal life enrichment.
- Child Welfare
- Child Development
- Youth Services
Good Match For
Requirements & Commitment
- Driver's License Needed
- Background Check
- Orientation or Training
- 1 year minimum
- Level 2 Background Screen and Interview