What  is a Guardian ad Litem?
A Guardian ad Litem is a court appointed, trained volunteer who advocates for the best interest of an abused, abandoned or neglected child. Many of the children have been removed from their home and are with relatives, friends, or in foster care. Together with the support and guidance of the GAL staff and GAL attorneys, GAL Volunteers strengthen the voice of the child and ensure they do not become lost in the system. 

What does a Guardian ad Litem do?

  • Visits the child a minimum of once a month and, most importantly, listens to the child.
  • Gathers information about the case.
  • Interviews those involved in the child’s life and case.
  • Works with community partners to ensure the child is receiving the assistance and support they need.
  • Makes recommendations to the court, based on the information gathered.
  • Works to ensure the child does not get overlooked or lost in the system.
  • In court, gives voice to the child's wishes and represents what is in the child’s best interest. The Guardian is the one constant in the child’s life during this litigious process and uncertain time.

What are the qualifications to become a Guardian ad Litem?

  • If you have a desire to help children, are concerned for the well-being of children, and are willing to advocate for their best interests, GAL and the children need you. 
  • Guardian ad Litem Volunteers come from diverse educational, economic, ethnic and employment backgrounds. 
  • You must be 21 years of age and have a clear criminal background. 
  • No special education or experience is required. 
  • 30 hours of training is provided to receive Guardian ad Litem certification. Training is provided free. 


Is there training and who will assist me if I need help?

  • As a Guardian ad Litem Volunteer, you will receive training and support from a team of full-time GAL professionals. 
  • The Guardian ad Litem Program offers 30 hours of free training for Guardian ad Litem Certification. The certification course is a nationally recognized program and is designed to provide you with the knowledge and confidence needed to quickly become a strong advocate. 
  • Following course completion, you will be assigned to a GAL Volunteer Supervisor who will assist you with your case, when needed. Your GAL Volunteer Supervisor will always be there for you when you have questions or concerns about your case. In addition to your GAL Volunteer Supervisor, you will also have the support and expertise of GAL Program Attorneys.
  • Continuing education classes are frequently offered on a variety of topics.​


If I’m employed full-time, can I still be a Guardian ad Litem?
Yes, many GAL Volunteers have full-time commitments. Much of the GAL work can be done over the phone, after hours, and weekends. Generally, you will have advanced notice regarding court dates. The average monthly commitment for a case is 10-15 hours, approximately 2-3 hours per week. If you have concerns regarding your time commitment, feel free to discuss them with one of the GAL staff members. 

What if I’m a ‘snow bird’?
We have many ‘snow bird’ volunteers. There is a support system within the GAL Program to address these needs and provide advocacy and court representation in your absence.

What is the time commitment for a Guardian ad Litem volunteer?

  • The initial training period to be certified as a Guardian ad Litem is 30 hours. These classes are offered regularly, generally over a two week period. 
  • Only 12 hours of continuing education are required for annual re-certification. Continuing education classes are offered regularly. 
  • Once you are assigned a case, the average time commitment is 10 to 15 hours a month. This includes information gathering, reviewing reports, visiting the child, and court appearance. Each case is different, so the time commitment can vary.


Will I be involved in court proceedings?
Yes and your training will prepare you with the knowledge and confidence needed to effectively write reports and offer your recommendations to the Court. During your training you will observe court sessions where other GAL Volunteers are advocating on a child’s behalf. You will always have your GAL Volunteer Supervisor to help you with any cases or concerns and a Guardian ad Litem Attorney will always be with you in court.

What about my safety?
Your safety is always top priority. We will never ask you to go anywhere or do anything that might jeopardize your safety. As you would normally do, use good common sense and take reasonable precautions when making decisions. You will learn in training who to contact and who you can work with if you encounter a situation or location in which you feel uncomfortable.

May I take a child to a movie or other outing?
Volunteers may be approved to transport children on a case-by-case basis after a submission of a written statement of intent and approval by the Circuit Director and executive office staff.
 
Are there other ways I can volunteer to help children without taking a case?
Yes, there are many ways that you can help the Guardian ad Litem Program and in turn help children. To learn more about non-advocate opportunities in the GAL Program, please call the GAL office at 561-355-6224. To get involved with Speak Up for Kids (a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization providing financial support to the PBC GAL Program) click here.

What if I have more questions?
Call our office at 561-355-6224. 


Guardian ad Litem Program - Palm Beach County

Volunteer FAQ