Volunteers needed for Big Bend Guardian Ad Litem program

Volunteers needed for Big Bend Guardian Ad Litem program
Volunteers needed for Big Bend Guardian Ad Litem program
Posted at 4:47 PM, Aug 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-16 14:21:58-04

WAKULLA COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) - Hundreds of children are tied to court cases in the Big Bend.

The Second Judicial Circuit says it needs more volunteers to advocate for them.

It probably isn't the first place you'd take a kid to have fun, but for some, the courtroom is part of their lives.

"While their parents are going through dependency court issues, we are here to make sure that they're not overlooked," said Taylor Tachell, who's a volunteer recruiter for the Guardian Ad Litem program.

The Guardian Ad Litem program vouches for needs like food, clothing and education, sometimes therapy.

"These children are our future, and these children are all children who have either been abused or neglected in their life," said Tachell.

And the cases just keep coming, almost double what they've been in recent months. 

Right now, there are more than 580 children who need a guardian. Each of them has one, but some of these guardians are covering more than one case and more than one child.

"What you give as a volunteer is returned to you many times over by what you get out of that service," said Rachel Pienta, the president-elect of the Wakulla County Chamber of Commerce.

The Wakulla County Chamber of Commerce wants residents to think about signing up. We met the president-elect in Tallahassee, where she said half of the county's residents work.

"People are working 8, 9, 10-hour days or longer," said Pienta. "How much time is left over to volunteer?"

Guardians ad litem typically spend 8 to 10 hours a month on a case and it doesn't all have to be in court.

"You can take the children out for lunch or to the park, something like that," said Tachell.

An escape from an unfamiliar place, but having a familiar face next to them could make that process a little more bearable.

The program will spend two Saturdays in Wakulla County next month for training, but volunteers are needed in several surrounding counties. You can find out more information about how to volunteer here.