JEFFERSON — Ashe County continues to see a dramatic increase in the numbers of children who have been abused and neglected children in foster care this year, leading to an equally dire need for more volunteer Guardians ad Litem to advocate for these children, according to a release from the N.C. GAL program.

“Currently, we serve over 50 children who have been abused or neglected in Ashe County, 10 plus of whom do not have their own community advocate,” said Michelle Dix, Ashe County GAL Supervisor in Jefferson. “This reflects an increase in the number of children coming into foster care this year despite having additional volunteers step forward to give the children a voice.”

The GAL program is already taking applications for the next training class, which will begin soon. All applications are to be completed online as soon as possible at the N.C. Guardian ad Litem Program state website, www.volunteerforgal.org.

“Guardians ad Litem are not guardians in the traditional sense,” Dix said. “We are made up of community volunteers appointed by district court judges to be the eyes and ears of children who are currently in foster care."

Guardians ad Litem visit the child in the foster home, speak with teachers and social workers, and generally monitor how the case is progressing to provide the judge with recommendations concerning the child’s best interest, according to Dix.

With the Guardian Ad Litem’s input, the judges can make better informed decisions about each case with the children as a primary focus.

“After you’ve been trained, it takes very little time to help each month and you really do make a huge difference in someone’s life,” she said.

For more information, contact Michelle Dix or any GAL staff member in the Jefferson office at (336) 219-1421 or GAL.District23@nccourts.org. For an online application, go to www.volunteerforgal.org. To stay up to date with news and information, visit their Facebook page, NC Guardian ad Litem – District 23.

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