Thank you for considering volunteering for the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program!
When you volunteer your time, skills, empathy and good judgment as a guardian ad litem, you become an invaluable advocate for a child. In addition to making a difference in the lives of children, you can also be proud of your lasting contribution to the greater good.
To become a guardian ad litem, you must…
- be at least twenty-one years old;
- pass a criminal background; and
- complete the thirty-hour pre-service training program.
Young adults nineteen or twenty years old may become certified and are allowed to work under the guidance of and in partnership with a guardian ad litem twenty-one or above.
You can learn more about our program and volunteering by browsing the sections on this page.
- Ask Questions
- Apply To Volunteer
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Pro Bono Attorneys
- Volunteer Advocate Position Description
There is a lot of information on this page and website. If you would prefer to talk to a person about becoming a volunteer, please contact our volunteer recruiter Maritza Waddle.
- (850) 606-1213
Apply To Volunteer
We offer two ways to begin the application process. The first method includes an online application plus some print forms, while the second takes place in person at our office.
❶ Fill out and submit a Volunteer Application.
❷ Your application will be reviewed and you will receive a telephone call from our volunteer recruiter, Maritza Waddle.
In Person Application
❶ Call our volunteer recruiter, Maritza Waddle, at (850) 606-1213 and leave a message if needed.
❷ Your application will be filled via a paper form at our office. You may be asked to stay for an interview.
The Next Steps…
❶ Application review and interview
❷ Pre-service training — Phase 1: Independent Study
❸ Security background investigation/criminal records check; references complete
❹ Pre-service training — Phase 2: Classroom Learning
❺ Provisional certification and peer mentor assignment
❻ Assignment of first case
❼ Pre-service training — Phase 3: Fieldwork
❽ Full certification
Reasonable modifications and auxiliary aids and services are provided for individuals with disabilities. To request a modification or auxiliary aid or service, please contact the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) coordinator at the Holland Building: 600 South Calhoun Street, Suite 260, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0979.
Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to frequently asked questions about guardians ad litem and volunteering for our program are available. If your question is not answered there, check the Help page for tips on finding information on our website or contact us.
You can also download the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program brochure in PDF format.
Volunteer guardians ad litem are also required to complete thirty hours of pre-service training in order to become certified. We will provide you with specific details about all necessary training after we process and approve your application.
Pro Bono Attorneys
Attorneys interested in volunteering their time and services for our program should refer instead to the Pro Bono Attorney page and application.
Volunteer Advocate Position Description
The position description for volunteer guardians ad litem was last updated on Saturday, October 17, 2015. A condensed version is available on the Guardian ad Litem Caregiver Brochure.
A guardian ad litem (GAL) volunteer is a specially trained, child advocate whose dedicated advocacy ensures a dependent child's safety, well-being, best interests and permanent placement. Working within a GAL team of program staff and attorneys, and alongside community-based social workers and community service providers, a GAL volunteer serves as the "voice for the child" in judicial dependency proceedings and in helping the child navigate the foster/relative care system.
Direct guidance and coaching of volunteers are provided by a GAL child advocate manager (CAM) and a child's best interest (CBI) attorney. All of you work together within the program's team model of advocacy as stated in our program's standards.
Duties and Responsibilities
These are minimum required duties and responsibilities.
- Complete, extensive and independent research and review of each case.
- Perform monthly child visits in accordance with program standards and policies. This includes submitting a child visitation report to your CAM on a monthly basis.
- Speak with the child and relevant adults: parents, family members, school officials, doctors, service providers and others involved in the child's life that may have facts about the case.
- Observe the child in interactions with parents, relatives and non-relatives.
- Report findings and child's wishes to the court by submitting reports prepared in accordance with Florida Statutes, program standards and policies for scheduled hearings.
- Provide a written report containing factual information that you have independently verified utilizing the program's court reporting standard. This report is developed in collaboration with your CAM and CBI attorney.
- Ensure representation of the child's best interests.
- Attend or participate by phone, when permitted by the court, in all court hearings to see that relevant facts are presented.
- Attend appropriate interagency meetings, staffings and mediations pertaining to the child.
- Monitor the case following a court hearing or decision as designated by the court.
- Ensure that the judicial and child welfare systems are moving forward to secure a safe, permanent home for the child.
- Ensure that court-ordered services are provided for the child and family.
- Consult regularly with your CAM on matters pertaining to assigned case(s).
- Review case progress and discuss and identify issues concerning the child that need to be resolved.
- Immediately inform your CAM about issues that may impact the child's safety and/or well-being.
Training and Support Plan
- Volunteers are required to successfully complete the program's thirty (30) hour pre-service training and twelve (12) hours of in-service training annually.
- Volunteers are required to adhere to the program's current standards and the Guardian ad Litem Code of Conduct.
- Volunteers may have access to additional training opportunities offered by other community agencies.
- Volunteers receive direct coaching, mentoring and guidance from program staff utilizing a team model of advocacy.
- Volunteers will receive additional support through the use of local volunteer mentor programs.
- Volunteers must keep in regular contact with their CAM regarding case progress or issues.
- Volunteers are required to commit the necessary time to adequately complete their assigned case(s).
- Volunteers, on average, spend an average eight (8) to twelve (12) hours a month on each case.
- Volunteers are expected to be available for case assignment and to accept cases as soon as possible upon completion of pre-service training.
- Volunteers with a lapse of more than six months without an active case will lose their certification or may become a non-case volunteer as long as the volunteer accepts and agrees to perform another role within the program.
Qualifications, Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
- Demonstrates the ability to maintain confidentiality and adhere to the program's current standards and code of conduct.
- Demonstrates the ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.
- Demonstrates the ability to respect people from various ethnic, cultural, religious, social and economic backgrounds.
- Demonstrates the ability to maintain objectivity in stressful or emotional situations.
- Possesses the basic understanding of child development and the dynamics of family relationships.
- Exhibits good common sense.
- Must be twenty-one (21) years of age or older. If age nineteen (19) or twenty (20), the volunteer may be certified as a co-guardian ad litem and are allowed to work under the guidance of and in partnership with a volunteer over the age of twenty-one (21).
- Must successfully complete all phases of the program application and training process including a national criminal background check.
Benefits of Becoming a GAL Volunteer
Although the program cannot provide monetary rewards, there are many benefits to becoming a GAL volunteer. These include opportunities to
- Make a positive difference in the life and future of a child who has been a victim of abuse and/or neglect and make a meaningful impact in the local community;
- Help a child find safety, nurturing and permanency in a loving home;
- Help a judge to make important decisions about the life of a child by providing factual input and best interest recommendations to the court;
- Gain an understanding of the legal child dependency and foster care systems; and
- Learn a new set of life skills that can help others and provide personal life enrichment.