Some communities provide a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), a trained volunteer appointed by the court, who will advocate for the best interests of the abused child. In court, the Guardian Ad Litem serves as the voice for the child and makes independent recommendations to the court for services. The GAL advocates for the needs of the child and for a safe home. A GAL is sometimes appointed by the court in divorce and parenting time disputes to represent the best interests of the minor children. The requirements for a GAL vary from state to state. They are sometimes volunteers, social workers, and attorneys. They are often appointed in cases involving allegations of child abuse, child neglect, or dependency. The GAL is charged to represent the child's interests, and this can differ from the position of the state, government agency, and parents. Activities of a GAL include
- Visiting the child and informing the child of the court proceedings.
- Communicating with the Attorney Advocate for the child to develop safe strategies in the child's best interests.
- Gathering and assessing information about the child on a consistent basis in order to recommend a resolution in the child's best interest.
- Interviewing parents, guardians, caretakers, social workers, and service providers to gather information about family services.
- Seek cooperative solutions.
- Write fact-based, child-focused reports for the court.
- Attend and participate in court hearings and advocate for a permanent plan for the child.
- Make sure that the court knows the preference of the child.
- Maintain confidentiality.
- Monitor court-ordered services.
Consult with local program staff for support and guidance.