You don't need a particular education or professional background to be a volunteer guardian ad litem (GAL). We encourage anyone committed to helping Vermont’s most vulnerable children to apply.

Why Children Need Guardians ad Litem

Right now, thousands of Vermont's children and youth are part of proceedings in the family division. Many are victims of abuse or neglect, accused of delinquent acts, or simply lost. They may be in foster care while they face uncertainties about things most people take for granted: a safe home and a loving family.

These children need someone to help them understand what's happening and to make sure their voices are heard. These children need a volunteer guardian ad litem (GAL) to advocate for their best interests in and out of court. They need you. You can volunteer to become a GAL in your community and make certain that at least one child is not alone.

Who Becomes a Guardian ad Litem

You don't need any particular education or professional background to be a volunteer guardian ad litem (GAL). Many GALs are retirees. But our volunteers also include many people who have full-time jobs. We encourage anyone committed to helping Vermont’s most vulnerable children to apply.

Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds, but they share common qualities. Most GALs are nonjudgmental, strong communicators, organized, objective, flexible, and/or tactfully assertive. If you see these qualities in yourself and if you care deeply about children and families, serving as a GAL may be the right fit for you.

How You Can Become a Guardian ad Litem

There are several steps to becoming a guardian ad litem (GAL). First, please complete the application:

and send it to:

Guardian ad Litem Program
Office of the Court Administrator
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609

A program coordinator will review your application and schedule an interview with you. The interview is an opportunity to learn more about you and to answer any questions you have about serving as a GAL. Please note that some volunteers find this interview uncomfortable because staff must ask difficult and personal questions. The program also conducts an extensive state and federal background check, and staff speak with your references.

To get the foundation you'll need to be an effective GAL, you must then complete the three-day preservice training. Because Vermont law requires a GAL in every child abuse or child neglect case, training focuses on those cases. Training is offered at no cost almost every month in convenient locations across the state. The training schedule is updated regularly. You are welcome to attend any of the sessions.

Once you have gone through the training, you will shadow an experienced GAL until you have the comfort and practical experience to be appointed to a case. After you have begun volunteering, you will receive full-day trainings on specialized topics, such as working with youth in delinquency cases. You can also take part in training offered by the Department for Children and Families (DCF) and other agencies, as well as monthly brown-bag lunches and webinars.

What the Guardian ad Litem Program Expects from Volunteers

A child abuse or child neglect case can take up to two years to close. We ask that you make a two-year commitment to being a guardian ad litem (GAL) to reduce disruption and to be a consistent presence in the child's life. Although we know that unforeseen events may make this impossible, please keep this expectation in mind.

Guardians ad litem typically spend 5 to 10 hours per month per child for the duration of a case. They usually spend more time in the early stages of a case and less time as the case progresses. GALs are encouraged to take cases only when they know they can invest the time needed to be effective advocates.

Hearings and some meetings take place during regular business hours. Before you volunteer, make sure your employer will approve your occasional need to participate during the workday. You will also want to maintain a caseload that works for you and your employer. The Vermont Guardian ad Litem Program can verify your volunteer hours if your employer sponsors a community service program.

In Vermont guardians ad litem are volunteers. However, the court reimburses GALs for mileage and other approved expenses.

When Judges Assign Guardians ad Litem

Vermont law requires a guardian ad litem (GAL) for every child in a child abuse or child neglect case. GALs may also work with children in delinquency cases when the court determines that their parents have conflicts of interest. Other statutes may require GALs in certain divorce or custody cases, as well as in cases when a child must testify. While courts sometimes appoint volunteer GALs to those cases, more often than not judges appoint lawyers instead. Vermont does not distinguish between the volunteer GALs assigned primarily in CHINS and delinquency cases and those assigned in other cases.

For More Information

To learn more, please contact the Guardian ad Litem Program:

Rob Post, Programs Manager
Office of the Court Administrator
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609