By SANDEE WOODS
Guardian ad Litem Program
The Guardian ad Litem Program would like to thank the Arcadia Police Department for another year of generously donating backpacks and school supplies to abused and neglected children of our community.
As well, thank you to St. Edmund Episcopal Church parishioners for again donating gift cards to assist children in purchasing new school clothes and shoes.
Any child within the Guardian ad Litem Program has been found by the court to have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their parents. These children are thrust into a large and difficult-to-maneuver legal maze known as the dependency system. This means kids are dependent on the state of Florida for their care. The Guardian ad Litem program offers a trained volunteer to be an advocate within this problematic entity.
Currently, the DeSoto County Guardian ad Litem program is in need of caring people to complete training and to become advocates to visit the children in their homes, to see that they have all they need and then report to the court on their best interests and well-being. A volunteer child advocate must be at least 21 and have no violent/drug-related/child-abuse related criminal background. The program currently has volunteer couples working cases together, that have children at home, that work full-time, or are in other busy life situations. Yet, they see first hand the value of investing in others and find that it is worth their time to come alongside these children and listen to them. Sidenote: Spanish speaking advocates are desperately needed!
For more information on how to become a Guardian ad Litem volunteer/child advocate, please contact the Guardian ad Litem office in the DeSoto courthouse, which is at 115 E. Oak St., 863-993-4638. There will be local training soon, so now is the time if you are interested!