Tampa, FL – “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” is an anonymous quote that could be the mantra for Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteers in Hillsborough County. Men and women of all ages and backgrounds act as advocates and mentors for many children in the foster care system, but more children are still waiting to meet that person who will make a difference in their life.
In Hillsborough County there are 673 volunteer child advocates fighting for the best interests of over 2,179 children, but more than 1,ooo children still need the care and support of a GAL volunteer. In an average of 10-12 hours per month, an adult can get to know a child in foster care, help them better understand their circumstances, and be a caring, consistent presence in the child’s life. GAL volunteers are from various backgrounds and all training is provided to help them become effective advocates.
Research has shown that children in the foster care system who have a GAL volunteer do better in school, receive more services while in foster care, and often move through the system and find a permanent home more quickly. “With all of the discouraging news stories of the past several months, now is the perfect time for someone to step up and be part of a solution for these children,” says Tabitha Lambert, Circuit Director for the Hillsborough County Guardian ad Litem Program. “If you’ve ever wished you had someone there when you were younger, you can now be that someone for a child in the foster care system.”
To learn more about the GAL program and what volunteers do, attend an information session. These one hour sessions are held around the county on Thursday evenings. A full schedule can be found on the Guardian ad Litem website at www.galtampa.org. The office can also be reached at 813-272-5110.