Orange County attorneys, on an individual basis, have been providing Guardian ad Litem (GAL) services since the early 1970s. Then, in 1978, when the State of Florida mandated the appointment of Guardians ad Litem for children in all cases of abuse or neglect, statewide efforts were initiated to develop a formal GAL Program. The State of Florida proposed a model program that placed a lay person in the GAL position. That model was accepted and is currently utilized throughout the state of Florida, except in Orange County.
Our local judiciary and the various social service agencies that worked with abused children in Orange County wanted to continue with our model, which utilized an attorney in the GAL position. It was decided that the Legal Aid Society would serve as the administrative agency for the GAL Program in Orange County, and through the efforts of our local Florida Bar members, we would only appoint attorneys to serve as GALs in Orange County. In addition, lay citizens (VACs) from our community who wanted to work with abused and neglected children were trained to work along with the GAL attorney (upon request) so that each child we served had the best possible combination of representation and advocacy available.
This unique and most impressive pairing of talent has served the children of Orange County well. Administered through the Legal Aid Society, over 400 volunteers donate their time to represent the best interests of 1,200 Orange County children in need.
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