When the Department of Children and Families seeks to take a child into custody, Vermont law requires the court to appoint a Guardian ad Litem (GAL). GALs are volunteer, court appointed special advocates who protect children’s best interests in these juvenile court cases, which usually involve allegations of abuse or neglect.
A GAL works closely with a child’s attorney, meets with the child regularly, and gathers information from people involved in the child’s life to understand the child’s needs and advocate for their best interests in court. The GAL’s goal is to ensure the child has a safe, stable, and permanent home as quickly as possible.
GALs come from all walks of life, and no prior experience in the courts or the child welfare system or specialized education is required to serve in this vital role. Successful applicants must be compassionate, have a flexible schedule, pass a background check, and have reliable transportation and internet access. All GALs must complete 32 hours of training and a mentorship with an experienced GAL prior to being appointed to their own case.
Right now there is a desperate need for volunteers and too many children risk not having this essential support in their lives that an experienced GAL can provide. The need is especially great in Orleans, Franklin, Grand Isle, Caledonia, Lamoille, and Essex counties.
For more information visit www.vermontjudiciary.org/GAL, email JUD.VermontGAL@vermont.gov, or call 800-622-6359. The Vermont Guardian ad Litem Program is an equal opportunity volunteer program, actively encouraging applicants of all backgrounds.
Apply today and be the positive difference in a child’s life. The program’s next training will be virtual, beginning on January 24, 2022.