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Job Title – Guardian Ad Litem Volunteer Child Advocate

Work Location –  Throughout Hillsborough County

Purpose of the Position – A Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Child Advocate has made the decision to speak up for a child in the dependency system, commonly referred to as the foster care system. Currently, there are more than 3,200 abused, abandoned and neglected children in Hillsborough County who are the subject of court proceedings. Children should not endure the system without a champion- that is why the Guardian ad Litem Program exists.  Our trained Volunteer Child Advocates commit their efforts to represent these children so that each child’s needs are met and their voices are heard during their time in the dependency system.  When you join the Guardian ad Litem Program, you are making a positive impact in a child’s life.

Responsibilities and Duties –  The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) represents the “best interests” of the child in a variety of ways.

The first way is by gathering information.

  • The Volunteer Child Advocate independently conducts a thorough investigation on behalf of the child.
  • The Volunteer Child Advocate may interview all parties connected to the case including but not limited to: the child, parents, teachers, mental health professionals, etc.

Second:

  • The Volunteer Child Advocate examines and collects records from many sources concerning the child including medical and educational.
  • The Volunteer Child Advocate serves as a monitor of the agencies and persons who provide services to the child.
  • The Volunteer Child Advocate assures that orders of the court are carried out, and that families and children in need receive the help that they should.

Third:

  • The Volunteer Child Advocate acts as a spokesperson for the child assuring that the child’s wishes are heard and that the best interests of the child are presented to the Court and agencies dealing with the child.

Fourth:

  • The Volunteer Child Advocate reports their findings and presents information to the Court and helps the Court determine what is in the child’s best interests. The Volunteer Child Advocate prepares a written report which becomes a permanent part of the child’s record.

 Qualifications – Our volunteers come from all walks of life with a variety of experiences

Commitment Expected – We ask that our volunteers commit to seeing one case through to completion.  Most cases take about 22-24 months to work through the system.

 Training –  There is a three part training process that includes:  an independent study portion, classwork portion (15 hours) and hands-on training with an experienced Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Child Advocate. The independent study combines an on-line segment and readings; the classroom portion is now only 15 hours, and includes Orientation and Introduction to the Guardian ad Litem Program, Legal Path of a Case, Appearing in Court and Achieving Permanency to highlight a few of the topics covered. The completion of the 15 hour training will then provisionally certify you so that you can be assigned a case and begin the field component under the guidance of a Volunteer Child Advocate mentor. With the help of your mentor, you will learn and experience what it is really like to be a Volunteer Child Advocate.

Next Steps: Contact Rita Sibaja Below

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