“All a child really needs is a little help, a little hope and someone who believes in them.” NBA legend Magic Johnson believed this to be true, and after seeing what a difference they can make, so do the Volunteer Child Advocates of the Guardian ad Litem program.
Men and women of all ages and backgrounds act as advocates and mentors for children in the foster care system, but more children are waiting for the person who can offer them a little help and hope.
Children enter the foster care system after having been abused, abandoned or neglected. Despite the loss and trauma they have experienced, they still share many common needs with other children: learning and growing, a desire to play and be around others with similar interests and a longing for love, guidance and a stable environment in which to live.
Research shows that children in the foster care system who have a volunteer advocate do better in school, receive more services and often move through the system and find a permanent home more quickly than those without an advocate.
In an average of 10-12 hours per month, an adult can get to know a child in foster care, encourage them in school and life matters, provide some normalcy and be a caring, consistent presence in the child’s life. Guardian ad Litem volunteers receive training to help them become effective advocates.
“If you are looking for a volunteer opportunity that brings fulfillment and can make a lifetime of difference, look no further,” said Tabitha Lambert, circuit director for the Hillsborough County Guardian ad Litem Program. “Heartfelt advocacy can be the strength a child needs.”
To learn more about the Guardian ad Litem program, attend an information session. These one-hour sessions are held around the county mostly on Thursday evenings, but with an exception once a month.
A full schedule can be found on the Guardian ad Litem website at www.galtampa.org. The office can also be reached at 272-5110.