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Latin meaning “guardian at law,” a guardian ad litem is a person appointed by a family court judge to advocate for a child in a court case.
This term isn’t commonly used in the daily vocabulary of most people. Because of confidentiality laws, most residents don’t have any idea how many child abuse and neglect cases that fill the docket of Lancaster County Family Court.
However, for one group of Lancaster volunteers, knowing these children is a way of life.
The volunteer guardians ad litem in Lancaster County are trained to speak up and advocate for minor children who have entered the family court system through the Department of Social Services. I have been one of those volunteers since the beginning of 2006.
I am not from Lancaster, but plan to live here for the remainder of my life. I care about the community, the residents and the children who are our future. My children and grandchildren live 12 hours away. It makes me happy to speak up for the children, of our county because I hope that if my grandchildren needed an advocate, someone where they live would be there for them.
I am exposed to the statistics and the details of the suffering of our youngest citizens. The children in my cases need someone to speak up for them and present objective facts to the family court judge. Unfortunately, ignoring the extent of the abuse and neglect cases in Lancaster County will not make it go away. A guardian ad litem is one person, who can provide consistency and stability for these children as they experience the most uncertain time in their young lives.
If you are at least 21 years old and have four to six hours per month you can spare to help make a difference in the life of a local child, please consider joining us at our next training session beginning on Sept 8.
For information and registration, please call our local office at (803) 286-6064.
I hope to continue to bring information and report on the current needs of our organization to the citizens of our caring county in future publications.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.