Opinion
November 12, 2014

Volunteer child advocates needed in Rutland County

Dear Editor,

Rutland County is a wonderful place to live and raise children.

However, some families do not have the resources and support they need, and children end up in the state’s custody for a variety of reasons. Some have been abused, neglected, and/or abandoned by their parents or other caretakers; others are the subjects of adversarial custody disputes; some are involved in the court system due to unmanageable or delinquent behaviors. These children need someone to speak on behalf of their best interests as they go through the legal proceedings.

Did you know that there is a state mandate that every child in the state’s custody (due to the above listed reasons) are to have an impartial advocate appointed? This person is a “Guardian ad Litem.” The Vermont Guardian ad Litem program provides caring adults to ensure that every child in the system has a well-trained, impartial, supervised and supported volunteer to see them through what is often a very difficult and confusing time.

That’s right, this mandate requires volunteers. Lots of them. Currently, there are 116 cases in Rutland County. We are looking for more giving individuals from the Rutland community to volunteer their time to help children who are involved in the Vermont court system through no fault of their own. Volunteers do not need a professional degree or background to become a court advocate for a child, but they must pass a background check, attend training and have a willingness to learn and grow as an advocate. There is plenty of support through a wonderful group of citizen volunteers and supportive court staff.

Come find out more about the program at an open house Nov. 19 from 2-4 p.m. at the Rutland Family Court in downtown Rutland, 9 Merchants Row, where you can talk to program volunteers and staff, learn more about the program and how to apply. Drop in for refreshments and learn how to make a difference!

Sincerely,

Tony Krulikowski, GAL Coordinator Bennington, Rutland and Addison County

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