The are a lot of kids looking for advocates in Everett.
The Snohomish County Superior Court is putting out a call for volunteers to serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) or Guardian ad Litem (GAL) for kids who have been removed from their homes and need someone to act in their best interest. If you have the interest, here are the details…
The Volunteer Guardian ad Litem (VGAL) program of Snohomish County is seeking adults, 21 years and older, to act as advocates for children who have been removed from their homes due to alleged abuse, neglect or abandonment.
Washington State (RCW 13.34.100) and federal (Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act) law mandate that all children in dependency have a Guardian ad Litem to represent their best interests in court. In Washington, a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) or Guardian ad Litem (GAL) fulfills that mandate. A CASA/VGAL is a citizen volunteer appointed by the court to advocate for a child through independent investigations of the child’s situation and written recommendations to the court regarding the child’s safety, well-being, and permanency.
Dependent children in Snohomish County are dependent on volunteers to be their voice. Unfortunately, in Snohomish County there are not enough volunteers to meet the growing demand of children who are in need of a VGAL. Since January 1, 2014 the Snohomish County Volunteer Guardian ad Litem program has received 381 new cases, resulting in over 1,300 children who are dependents of the state. This does not include the thousands of children who were already in the system prior to January 2014.
The Snohomish County VGAL program is seeking qualified individuals from all walks of life, cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities to submit an application and begin the interviewing process for the next training scheduled to begin on January 31, 2015.
Applicants must be at least 21 years old with a high school diploma or GED. Interested candidates may call the VGAL Program Office at (425) 388-7854 for more information or view the application online at: VGAL Application or http://snohomishcountywa.gov/DocumentCenter/Home/View/7031.
“Volunteers learn the skills needed to become a strong voice for a child during the 32-hour intensive training course that is completed over three days,” explained Jessica Gurley, Community Services Supervisor for Snohomish County Superior Court. “The training teaches future advocates what they should expect to encounter once they are appointed to a case, how to put together a full picture of the child’s situation and how to navigate the court process,” stated Gurley. “With the knowledge gained during training, coupled by support received by VGAL Program Coordinators, volunteers can advocate for the best possible future for a child.”
Qualified individuals need to pledge to stay on a case from start to finish. A case can take anywhere from six to 18 months, or longer, depending on its complexity. Citizens of Snohomish County have the opportunity to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of children who are dependents of the state and who need a voice throughout the court process. “Our neighbors and friends in the community can help us help kids who need a voice,” stated Gurley. “If you have the time and compassion to help shape a child’s life,” Gurley said, “My question is, what’s stopping you?”
About Snohomish County Volunteer Guardian ad Litem Program
The Volunteer Guardian ad Litem (VGAL) Program recruits and trains community volunteers to provide court-appointed special advocates for dependent children who are victims or alleged victims of sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect. VGALs are appointed by Superior Court judges to represent the children’s best interests during a dependency action brought against the parents.
The program goal is to ensure that a child’s right to a safe and permanent family is acted on in a sensitive and expedient manner. Working with the judge, attorneys, and social workers, the VGAL advocates for the best interests of the child and seeks to establish a secure placement for dependent children.
Definition of Dependent Child
Dependent children are defined as those children who are under 18 years of age, who have no parent willing or able to care for them, or who are abandoned, abused, or neglected and are under the protective care of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) Children’s Administration. A VGAL may be appointed for these children to represent what is in their best interests to the court during the dependency process.
How to Apply
If you are interested in speaking up for a child and becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate with the Snohomish County VGAL Program, please call 425-388-7854 or email (email@example.com) for more information.