Published On: Wed, Mar 14th, 2012
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Volunteers needed for area Guardian ad Litem program

     The Guardian ad Litem program serving the Qualla Boundary,Jackson, Swain andGrahamCountiesis currently recruiting new volunteers to serve as court advocates for children.  There is a particular need at this time for new volunteers in Swain andGrahamCountyand within the Qualla Boundary.

     A new training class is scheduled to begin April 30.  The training includes learning about laws pertaining to child abuse, confidentiality, the effects of child abuse and neglect on a child, medical and emotional aspects, interviewing skills, investigation and the juvenile court process.

     Guardian ad Litem volunteers are appointed by the court to objectively investigate the circumstances in every case where a child is alleged to be a victim of child abuse or neglect.  Working with an Attorney Advocate, the volunteer Guardian ad Litem is a voice for children in court.  He or she explores all facts relevant to the case and makes recommendations to the court as to what is in the best interests of the child. 

     Shannon Cowan, Guardian ad Litem Program Supervisor said, “Volunteers come from all walks of life.  Some are college students; some are retirees; some work full-time jobs.  The Guardian ad Litem is a friend to the child during the court process.  The volunteer is the only person whose sole task is to focus on the best interest of the child.”

     Cowan added, “Child abuse and neglect cases from the Qualla Boundary are heard in state court.  We especially need more Cherokee volunteers to work with children from the Boundary.  People who are familiar with the community and the culture can be better advocates for the Cherokee children.”

     There is no charge for the training.  An application, reference check and interview must be completed prior to the training date.  To obtain an application or for more information, call Program Supervisor Shannon Cowan at 587-2087. 

– Guardian ad Litem program

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