Learn more about the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program in the three sections below:

 

 

 

Our Program

Established by statute in 1983, the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program has been serving abused and neglected children for more than 30 years.

Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute § 7B-601, when a petition alleging abuse or neglect of a juvenile is filed in district court, the judge appoints a volunteer Guardian ad Litem advocate and an attorney advocate to provide team representation to the child—and this team has full party status in trial and appellate proceedings. All Guardian ad Litem advocates are trained, supervised, and supported by program staff in each county of the state. The collaborative model of GAL attorney advocates, volunteers, and staff ensures that all North Carolina children who are alleged by the Division of Social Services to have been abused or neglected receive GAL legal advocacy services.

History

 

1983

Guardian ad Litem is established in the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts by the General Assembly. (N.C.G.S. 7B-1200)

1994

Guardian ad Litem completes the 1983 mandate to have a GAL Program in each judicial district. From the coast to the mountains, the program has staff and volunteers in all 39 judicial districts.

2000

Guardian ad Litem staff create a manual designed to encourage best practices within the program.

2003

Guardian ad Litem celebrates 20 years of advocating for abused and neglected children in the court system. At this time, the program has more than 3,800 GAL volunteers and attorneys serving more than 15,700 children.

2010

For the first time, Guardian ad Litem reaches the milestone of having 5,000 volunteers.

2013

Guardian ad Litem celebrates 30 years of advocacy.

2018

Guardian ad Litem celebrates 35 years of advocacy.

 

 

 

 

Our Staff

Our program is administered by a state office, which is headed by the program administrator and supporting staff. Three regional administrators provide oversight and technical assistance to the judicial districts. Each judicial district, some comprised of one large county and some comprised of several counties, is headed by a district administrator, who is supported by guardian ad litem supervisors, specialists, and assistants. Volunteers are supervised by guardian ad litem supervisors or specialists, and each program has attorney advocates who protect the legal rights of child-clients.


Staff Duties

Guardian ad Litem (GAL) staff recruit, train, and supervise volunteers. These roles, along with thorough screening and criminal record checks, help ensure the safety and best interests of child-clients.

Staff duties include:

  • Assuring quality representation for children
  • Managing GAL volunteers and ensuring that they have the support they need to advocate effectively for children
  • Promoting positive community relations to foster commitment to the program and educate the public on child advocacy
  • Maintaining a record-keeping case management system
  • Developing and providing appropriate in-service training opportunities

 

Staff must have knowledge of:

  • volunteer administration
  • child development
  • juvenile court
  • applicable laws statutes
  • program development
  • evaluation techniques.

They often serve on local inter-disciplinary task forces and committees that affect the availability of services for GAL child-clients.

 

 

 

 

Our Volunteers

Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteers are adults who come from diverse communities, cultures, and life and work experiences. While no particular experience is required, all GALs share a sincere concern for the well-being of children.

Though each case is unique, GALs donate approximately eight hours each month to perform their statutorily mandated duties. They visit child-clients, conduct interviews, read reports, monitor court orders, collaborate with service providers, formulate fact-based child-focused court reports with recommendations, and may testify in court hearings.

There are currently about 5,300 GAL volunteers serving as court advocates for abused and neglected children in every county in North Carolina. Together, they donate nearly half a million hours of volunteer service a year, which amounts to about $11 million in savings to the state.

While GAL attorney advocates are appointed to every case, the program does not yet have a volunteer advocate for every child. Learn more about how you can get involved and be the voice for a child.

How Can I Help?