In 2015 there were 93 cases from Calhoun County where children were removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect by their caregivers. The court makes the decision to remove these children based on investigations and information gathered from different organizations. Guardian ad Litem (GAL) volunteers are appointed by a judge to make sure these children’s voices are heard in court proceedings.
The 14th Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program tries to find a trained GAL for every single child and advocate for them in their schools, their foster homes and the courtroom. The GAL becomes familiar with the child and the child’s case by meeting with a child at least once a month and reporting back to professional GAL staff. The GAL Program makes recommendations to the court to help ensure a safe, caring, stable and permanent environment. Unfortunately, in Calhoun County there are only 8 trained volunteers advocating for these children. There’s a severe shortage of volunteers from this area. The GAL Program needs at least 20 more volunteers to keep up with the number of children being removed from their homes. These children deserve to be represented. Please consider becoming a trained Guardian ad Litem volunteer. The volunteer hours are minimal and the reward in helping these children is immense. For more information, please call the Panama City office at 850-747-5180.