Gov. Beverly Perdue has proclaimed April as North Carolina Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Child Advocate Month in recognition of the program’s mission of protecting and promoting the best interests of children in abuse and neglect court proceedings. While appreciating advocates who have donated more than 944,000 hours of service to children in all 100 counties, the proclamation also serves as a reminder of the immense need for more volunteers.
Perdue’s proclamation states that the GAL program “protects and defends children from harm and ensures that abused and neglected children are provided with the court-ordered services they need.”
Established by the N.C. legislature in 1983, the mission of the GAL program is to provide trained, independent advocates to represent and promote the best interests of abused, neglected, and dependent children in the state court system, and to work toward a plan that ensures that these children are in a safe, permanent home. Statewide, 64 offices, approximately 100 attorneys and more than 4,900 GAL volunteers work as a team to represent 15,373 children. However, more volunteers are needed to ensure that every child has someone to speak on their behalf.
“GAL volunteers assist attorney advocates and staff in making notable differences in the lives of children across North Carolina,” said McKinley Wooten Jr., GAL administrator and a deputy director with the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts. “These volunteers give their time, experience and heart in order to advocate effectively for some of the most vulnerable children in their community. We encourage other North Carolinians to get involved with their local GAL program.”
To learn more, call toll-free (800) 982-4041 or visit www.ncgal.org.