Tampa, FL – Almost everyone decides to make a change for the better with a New Year’s resolution, but why not make a difference in our community now instead of waiting? Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteers make a difference in the lives of children in the foster care system every month and day of the year. Men and women of all ages and backgrounds act as advocates and mentors for these children, but with Hillsborough County having more children in the foster care system than any other county in the state, there just aren’t enough volunteers for them all.
In Hillsborough County, there are approximately 710 volunteer child advocates fighting for the best interests of over 2,300 children. But more than 1,ooo children still need a Guardian ad Litem volunteer to be their voice while they navigate through the foster care system. With an average of 10-12 hours per month, an adult can get to know a child in foster care and help them better understand their circumstances, while being a caring, consistent presence in the child’s life. GAL volunteers do not need any legal background and all training is provided to help them become effective advocates. November is the last class of 2018 where potential volunteers can work toward certification.
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 foster care system and find a permanent home more quickly. “These children are in trying situations through no fault of their own,” says Tabitha Lambert, Circuit Director for the Hillsborough County Guardian ad Litem Program. “If you’ve ever thought about learning what it takes to be an advocate for one of these children, now is the perfect time to attend an information session and understand how you can have a positive impact on a child’s life.”
To learn more about the Guardian ad Litem program and the role of a volunteer child advocate, attend a non-committal 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 or by calling the office at 813-272-5110.