Letter: National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month, and as part of the Guardian ad Litem program, I’m encouraging my neighbors and the community to consider volunteering to help abused and neglected children.

A competent, caring adult role model can make all the difference in the world to a young person who has never had one.

So many children and youth come into foster care through no fault of their own — due to a parent’s violence, addiction or neglect — and without a positive role model, they are at grave risk. Children who age out of foster care without a permanent family are more likely to face poverty, homelessness, addiction and re-entry into the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems.

But you can help as a Guardian ad Litem.

A Guardian ad Litem is a volunteer appointed by the court to advocate for a child in the dependency system. Most of these children have been removed from their homes due to abuse, abandonment and/or neglect. So the Guardian ad Litem advocates for the child’s best interest by providing recommendations to the court regarding services for the child, educational needs, permanency, safety, emotional well-being and normalcy.

Studies show children with a volunteer Guardian ad Litem are twice as likely to be adopted as those without — and they will spend less time in foster care.

Guardian ad Litem is also proud to be working with Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis, who is calling for more mentors for children and youth. We’re working with Volunteer Florida/Volunteer Connect to find more good people as well.

More than 10,000 Guardian ad Litem volunteers are already in — join us!

To learn more, visit www.galpbc.org or call (561) 355-6224.

Christie Geltz, Guardian ad Litem Recruiter, Palm Beach County