Guardian ad Litem Training - AMP | Achieving Maximum Potential

Guardian ad Litem Training


                      My Voice, My Advocate, My Guardian ad Litem 

Building the Relationship-

·         Youth needs to feel confident the GAL can do their job
·         Encouraged me to have a say in the courtroom and in my case
·         Made me feel like I was important in my case
·         Visited me in my home, shelter (face to face mtgs were really important)
·         Informed me what would happen in court
·         Gave me copies of the reports from my social worker, therapists etc.
·         Asking me if I had questions about the court sessions or reports
·         They were supportive and understanding of my emotional situation but still stayed professional
·         Find a time or way to talk to the youth alone, there may be things they want to tell you without foster parents or other adults around.
·         Youth can meet the judge with all parties’ approval ahead of time so youth aren’t scared when they do attend court. Youth can visit the court house without approval if not seeing the judge.
·         Ask youth where they want to see you (visits). Some want to meet in your office, at school, get a coke, park-play basketball, play cards etc. Sometimes visits are just about the game, that’s part of the relationship building.
·         Follow through with what you say you will do. No false promises!
·         Any age of youth can go to court. You take a child out of school for a dentist appointment, court is more important than that. It is their life!
Tips on working with youth-
·         Meeting me ten minutes before court is not OK! You are my voice in court so you need to know who I am and what I want to happen with my family.
·         How are you looking out for my best interest? What are you going to say in court about me? I want a chance to hear what you’re going to say about me before you say it in case I don’t agree with it.
·         Please explain court procedure to me, I don’t understand how court works.
·         Please explain my court options and choices to me. Sometimes my anger or emotions get in the way of my reasoning so hang in there with me because I really do want to be involved.
·         If I call you, please call back. If I don’t call, please call me or visit me. I really need to meet or talk to you, I may not know how much….
·         If it’s hard for me to speak in court, please encourage me to write a letter. Explain to me that everyone will get a copy, even my parents (rule of the court) so I can organize my thinking. Maybe I can read the paper out loud but it will be easier because I will be  nervous.
·         Let me know we can talk about sibling visits.
·         Talk to me about placement issues.
·         Best practice would say if a youth wants something different than GAL thinks is in their best interest the GAL should suggest they become the attorney and tell the youth that now anything they tell their attorney is confidential.
The best part of this job is working with the youth; it’s a big deal to them. This is what they think about all day, every day. It matters most to them. They may have something that you might not even recognize that’s a big deal to them and you wouldn’t see it without that relationship. You have to speak in words that the youth understand, use their words to explain what’s going on. Put yourself in their shoes, how would you want to be represented? 




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