HICKORY — The Catawba County Guardian ad Litem program welcomed four new volunteer child advocates during July. Barry Horton and Brittany Grooms were sworn in July 12. Sarah Sakatos and Angela Beard were sworn in July 26.
District Administrator Sydney Smith expressed her appreciation for each of the new volunteer child advocates. Smith said the new volunteers mean “more children in our district will have someone advocating for them.”
Once sworn in, Guardian ad Litem volunteer child advocates become officers of the court and serve as the eyes and ears of the judge. Volunteer child advocates are appointed to represent vulnerable children in court matters involving abuse or neglect.
“The role of a child advocate is to investigate and monitor their child’s cases which involves seeing their children regularly to be able to make recommendations to the court in the best interest of the child,” Smith said.
Guardian ad Litem volunteer child advocates serve an important role. “Having a volunteer child advocate means the voice of children will be heard in court and permanency will be established more quickly for these children,” Smith said.
There are no specific requirements for experience or education to volunteer with the Guardian ad Litem program. Anyone older than age 18 with a sincere compassion for children can be a child advocate. Current volunteers represent a variety of backgrounds. Many volunteers work or attend school full-time while others are retired.
Smith encourages anyone interested in volunteering to “think about being this voice for children that might not otherwise have a voice for them.” She adds “children need that advocacy to be able to have permanency and to be able to move forward with their lives.”
Anyone interested applying to become a Guardian Ad Litem volunteer or wanting more information can call Sydney Smith at 828-466-6121, ext. 2, or visit www.volunteerforGAL.org.
The next training for new volunteers starts Sept. 23.