Children in foster care are given a court appointed advocate. These individuals are usually social workers or attorneys however, it is important to note that these individuals don’t HAVE to be attorneys or social workers. These individuals are called a Guardian at Litem or GAL. These are the individuals that go to the child’s court hearings and tell the judge what is in the kid’s best interest. One would think that these individuals meet with the child a few times a month across various settings such as school, the foster home, visitation, etc. Unfortunately, this is not true in most cases. In fact, many GALs only see the child once a month or less. This individual is supposed to go into court and be the child’s voice despite seeing them once a month or once every few months. Sometimes GALs always visit the child in the foster home and other times they might visit the child in the school setting if the child is older.
Now I want you to think of someone that knows your wants and needs like the back of their hand. If this person had to testify on your behalf in court to your wants and desires, would they answer accurately? If so, how often do you see this person? How often do you talk to this person? Do you interact with this person across different settings (work, home, socially, etc.)? Now, do you think a stranger to a child can adequately go into court and advocate for their wants and needs if they’re only visiting them once a month or less in the same setting?
Children deserve a voice too!