From the Vermont GAL Program:
Donate your legal expertise in a new way and make a positive difference in a child’s life by volunteering as a guardian ad litem. As court appointed special advocates, GALs work with court involved children and youth, usually cases involving abuse or neglect in the Child in Need of Care or Supervision (CHINS) docket. GALs are also utilized by the court in youth-involved probate or domestic cases and are sometimes appointed for incompetent adults on a short-term basis in criminal, mental, health, or probate cases. In some counties, the need for volunteers is especially acute and the court struggles to meet statutory requirements to appoint a GAL for every child in the CHINS docket. Consequently, too many children risk not having this essential support in their lives.
Even for an experienced attorney, and especially for one whose experience did not include family law, this is challenging work directly on behalf of some of our most vulnerable community members. In most cases, you will work alongside court appointed counsel, collaborate with other team members to ensure that timely planning is responsive to identified needs, and focus on developing a relationship with the child and helping them understand the legal process. Inside the courtroom, guardians ad litem advocate for the child’s best interest and ensure their voice is heard. Volunteers decide themselves how many cases to accept.
The GAL Program requires preservice training, offers additional ongoing training opportunities and provides staff support for all volunteers. The next training starts on January 22 and an application, interview and background check are required.
For more information visit VermontJudiciary.org/GAL, email JUD.VermontGAL@vermont.gov, or call 800-622-6359.