About The Guardian ad Litem Office
We have a continual need for volunteers in Brevard County. Consider joining our program today.
What is a Guardian ad Litem?
Thousands of abused and neglected children become the subject of judicial proceedings each year in Florida. Their voices are often unheard, and best interests overlooked in the court process. Guardians ad Litem are citizens who volunteer to represent the best interests of an assigned child. A Guardian ad Litem does not have to be a lawyer, counselor, therapist, or parent, since he/she does not perform these roles for the child. The volunteer Guardian ad Litem is an advocate for the child before the court, social service agencies, and the community.
What does a Guardian ad Litem do?
The Guardian ad Litem represents the best interests of the child in a variety of ways.
They independently conduct a thorough investigation on behalf of the child. They interview many people: the child, counselors, pediatricians, mental health professionals, people from the neighborhood, schools, churches, law enforcement, and friends. The Guardian ad Litem reviews records from many sources concerning the child. The Guardian ad Litem meets with the multi-disciplinary team to prepare a report to the court with best interest recommendations for the child.
The Guardian ad Litem collaborates with child welfare agencies, who provide services to the child, to insure Court orders are carried out, and that families and children in need receive the help that they should.
The Guardian ad Litem assures that the child’s wishes are heard, and that the best interest of the child is presented to the Court and agencies dealing with the child. They write reports and speak in court, for the best interest of the child.
To prepare you to be a volunteer advocate, we have a 30-hour training class and provide each volunteer with a mentor. Our certified child welfare specialists and attorneys consistently advise and counsel throughout the case. In addition, we provide ongoing trainings and opportunities to learn more about community resources.
History of the Office
The State of Florida Guardian ad Litem Office resulted from the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974. In 1980, the Florida Legislature appropriated funds to the Office of the State Courts Administrator to implement a pilot program that would examine the effectiveness of a volunteer-based program for the delivery of Guardian ad Litem services for abused and neglected children. The evaluation report of the pilot program concluded that the volunteer model, consisting of lay persons recruited, trained, and supervised by professional staff, was a feasible, economical, and effective means of providing Guardian ad Litem services to Florida's abused and neglected children.
In subsequent years, the Legislature provided funding for the establishment of Guardian ad Litem offices in every circuit to represent the best interests of abused and neglected children through a volunteer model. By 1990, all of Florida's twenty judicial circuits had volunteer-based programs for the delivery of Guardian ad Litem services that were administratively managed by the trial courts.