About Us

About Us

The mission of the 5th Circuit Florida Guardian ad Litem Program is to support and promote court-appointed volunteer advocacy in Lake, Sumter, Hernando, Citrus, and Marion counties. Our volunteers work to ensure that every abused and neglected child can be safe, establish permanence and have the opportunity to thrive. Read more about us.

How Do Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Volunteers Help Children?

GAL volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in inappropriate group or foster homes. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their GAL volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.

Independent research has demonstrated that children with a GAL volunteer are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care and less likely to reenter care. Read more evidence of effectiveness.

Who Are GAL Volunteers?

Last year, nearly 75,000 Guardian ad Litem (GAL) and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) volunteers helped 238,000 abused and neglected children find safe, permanent homes. GAL volunteers are everyday citizens who have undergone screening and training with their local GAL/CASA program.

Who Are the Children GAL Volunteers Help?

Judges appoint GAL volunteers to represent the best interests of children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. Each year, more than 600,000 children experience foster care in this country. Because there are not enough GAL volunteers to represent all of the children in care, judges typically assign GAL volunteers to their most difficult cases. Read the stories of young people whose lives were changed by the support of a GAL volunteer.

How Did the GAL/CASA Movement Begin?

In 1977, a Seattle juvenile court judge concerned about making drastic decisions with insufficient information conceived the idea of citizen volunteers speaking up for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the courtroom. From that first program has grown a network of more than 951 CASA and Guardian ad Litem programs that are recruiting, training and supporting volunteers in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
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