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 lives. You can be that person, as there are still a few seats available for the last certification class of the year, which begins on November 4th.
Children enter the foster care system after having been abused, abandoned or neglected. Research shows that if these children have a volunteer child advocate, they do better in school, receive more services, and often move through the system and find a permanent home more quickly than those without a volunteer advocate.
In an average of 10-12 hours per month, an adult can get to know a child in foster care, encourage them in school and life matters, provide some normalcy, and be a caring, consistent presence in the child’s life. Guardian ad Litem volunteers receive training to help them become effective advocates.
“Now is the perfect time for someone to step up 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 Guardian ad Litem program, attend an information session. This is the first step for potential volunteers. One hour sessions are held around the county predominantly on Thursday evenings, but occasionally in the morning or on other days. 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.