We are the voice for children taken into State custody, under the Child Protection Act. We get to know them and their situation and then we advocate on their behalf, speaking up for what’s in their best interest in order for them to thrive in a safe, nurturing, and permanent home. We do investigations, home studies, write reports for the Court, and attend hearings. We compile information and determine what is in the best interest for a child’s ultimate health and happiness.
In 2017, we represented 664 cases, over 1,000 children, in the six counties of Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington.
The Third District Guardian ad Litem Program is committed to understanding and honoring the diversity of the communities in the Third Judicial District of Idaho. We recognize diversity in race and ethnicity, in addition to socioeconomic status, cultural background, gender, religion, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities, as well as individual viewpoints. The Third District Guardian ad Litem Program values the differences and strengths among us that allow us to advocate for the children and communities we serve. It is our intention to make our commitment to diversity and inclusivity apparent in our hiring practices, volunteer recruitment and trainings, appointments to our Board of Directors, community outreach, as well as our actions on behalf of abused and neglected children.
Frequently Asked Questions about Volunteering
“What will be my role as a Guardian?”
A Guardian ad Litem, Guardian, or GAL, is a community volunteer who has completed training and engages in casework, representing children who have been removed from all or part of their family due to concerns of abuse and/or neglect. We get to know the child and their situation, and then compile a report to advise a Judge on what we think is in the child’s best interest for their current and future health and happiness.
“What kinds of cases will I be dealing with?”
Our community sets standards of tolerance for how its citizens should live and interact with in our society. When those standards are compromised, and children are involved, it becomes necessary to place them in a protected environment. This is when a Guardian is appointed by the Court. We handle all cases involving child abuse and neglect, including – but not limited to – physical abuse, sexual abuse, drug abuse, neglect, and homelessness.
“Will I have any training?”
Of course! The Third District Guardian presents a National CASA adapted curriculum. Training occurs once a week for four weeks. We also offer field training and shadowing with one of our “Power Guardians” or Advocate Coordinators, and help through the first case with meetings on report writing, attending hearings, going on visitations, and doing investigative work. The volunteer has as much or as little help as they would like throughout the duration of their cases, and we require twelve hours of training per year through continuing education for all of our volunteers as well as our Staff.
“How long will I be with a typical case?”
Most cases last between twelve and sixteen months, depending on the circumstances. It is important that volunteers remain with a case throughout its duration; often, the volunteer Guardian is the only constant in the child’s life during this trying time. And, of course, you are always welcome to take on another case after one is completed.
“What age will the child be that I’m serving?”
Currently, we have a need for Volunteers to advocate for children ages 0-12. However, Guardians are able to let their Advocate Coordinator know the age they are most comfortable working with and their preferences.
“How will I report to the Judge?”
Guardians report to the Judge in reports, then they appear in Court where they are represented by an Attorney associated with the Guardian ad Litem program.
“How often do I meet with the child I’m assigned to?”
A Guardian is required to visit the child they are assigned to a minimum of one time per month. The duration of the visit is left to the Guardian’s discretion. If you would like to visit the child more often, that is wholly encouraged.
“What if I cannot attend a Court hearing?”
What’s special about the Third District Guardian ad Litem program is that all Guardian’s support each other. When a Guardian is unable to attend a Court hearing, a knowledgeable fellow Guardian will step forward and attend in their place.
“What reports do I need to write?”
Although the report writing seems to be daunting, it’s really not. Basically, reports are a summary of all the visits, interviews, and research the Guardian completes through the life of a case, as well as any concerns and suggestions. Fellow Guardians are on hand to help create and edit finished reports which are submitted to the Court prior to a hearing.
“How many hours a month will I typically spend on a case?”
The time spent per case does depend on the type of case it is and what stage the case is at. The beginning of the case will be the most time consuming between hearings, visitations with all parties, and gathering information. You can expect to spend about 8-10 hours per month during the first three months of the case. After that, the time required is typically between 3-5 hours.
“How many cases will I have?”
After a volunteer is properly trained, you will be assigned one case, and shortly after that an additional case will be assigned whenever possible. A Volunteer will never have more than two cases at a time unless otherwise approved by a supervisor.
“What are the requirements in order to volunteer?”
It is the policy of the Third District Guardian ad Litem Program to reject any applicant that has been convicted of, or have charges pending for, a felony or misdemeanor involving a sex offense, child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, or any act that may pose risk to children or the Third District Guardian ad Litem Program’s integrity or credibility.
With that being said, the only requirements we ask, is that our volunteers are over 21, be able to pass a thorough background check, have a High School diploma, and an eagerness to help children.
“How do I get started?”
Please call or email us and set-up an appointment to meet with a Staff member. We’ll take it from there and show you the way to becoming a Guardian.