“Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story,” said Josh Shipp, a foster child who knows firsthand what a difference it can make to have a consistent, caring adult who wants to be there for you.
Volunteering as a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) for children in foster care can make a wonderful difference for the child—and you, as some of the program’s current volunteers will attest.
“There are many worthy forms of volunteering,” said Kristine, “but in this, I have found something that feels really important.”
With a few hours a month, a Guardian ad Litem gets to know a child as well as what needs they may have and represents the child’s best interests in court. The program provides training. Mary, a newer volunteer, was nervous about taking on the role of a Guardian ad Litem but said she was quickly reassured.
“In training, the GAL staff was clear and direct on what to expect,” she said. “They offered support as I began to build relationships with these children in a hard season of their lives.”
A volunteer is part of a multidisciplinary team and requires no social services or legal degree. Nicole L. said, “After attending my first hearing, I knew I was in the right place, and this is what my heart wanted me to do. I couldn’t be happier with the decision. I just wish I had done it sooner.”
You can help change a child’s story. A foster child with a Guardian ad Litem volunteer gets better grades, receives more services, has fewer foster home placements and is more likely to be adopted. They feel more secure and develop higher self-esteem because someone is offering encouragement.
And what do children say about how their Guardian ad Litem makes their life better?
“You help me find places to live where people are nice to me.”
“You listen to me.”
“You check on me—if my grades are good and I am going to school.”
“You make me laugh.”
“You like donut holes too.”
Guardian ad Litem volunteers are from many backgrounds and careers. They donate an average of 10-15 hours per month of their time. Information sessions about the Guardian ad Litem Program and what volunteers do are available via phone. To learn more, visit www.galtampa.org or contact Guardian ad Litem at 272-5110.