In his 2016 Proclamation President Obama stated we as a nation must ensure that every child grows up in a safe, stable, nurturing environment and recommit to giving every child a chance to succeed.
Now in the midst of the COVID pandemic, one of the most vulnerable groups within our community is those children in the protective oversight of Social Services. Over 50% are seven years old or younger; many have been removed from their homes. A Guardian ad Litem (GAL) is appointed by the State District Court for each child to be their voice. During the past five years I have been a GAL advocating for the best interests of children in and out of the courtroom until a safe, permanent home was found.
Licensed foster care providers receive a small monthly state stipend; kinship providers (usually grandparents, aunts/uncles or other close family members) receive very limited funding from the state. In 1990 the GAL’s formed an association, the Guardian ad Litem Association of Buncombe County, to raise money to address the unfunded needs of these children. Our Association seeks to provide those activities that can enrich and ‘normalize’ our children’s lives such as swimming lessons, bikes, overnight camping – the simple things that so many children here in Buncombe County take for granted, things that can lead to a successful life.
A recent example of our funding was for a 9-year old child, abandoned by her mother, who was now struggling in her third foster home. The only constant in her life was her GAL, who recognized the child’s interest in gymnastics. The Association provided funds for her to be a member of the school gymnastic team as well as attend a special camp. Now she’s doing very well in foster care and her coach says she is a gifted gymnast!
To ensure these children are not lost in the shadow of the pandemic, the Association is offering a free special virtual presentation via Zoom on Tuesday, October 20, 6:30 -7:00 pm, with two guest speakers:
The Honorable Andrea Dray, District Court Judge, will discuss the impact of the pandemic on the court system and the children. An adopted child herself, Judge Dray brings a very special perspective.
A former Foster Child, will share her experiences within the court system and the significant role of her GAL in changing her life’s path.
Please visit our website gala-bc.org for more information about the event as well as the Zoom link.
Whether you can attend the Zoom event or not, we welcome your support in helping us continue to provide the things that can lead to a successful life for our children.
Guardian ad Litem Association of Buncombe County