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More than 400 abused and neglected children need a voice in the court system, and the Guardian ad Litem program helps give children speak.
But with the economic downturn and an increasing number of cases, the advocacy program needs volunteers now more than ever.
“It’s sad. It has impacted the program,” said Angela Phillips, GAL 25th district administrator. “Parents are more stressed than ever about their jobs, and that often brings out their problems. The cases now are more egregious than ever.”
Domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health issues are the driving force behind 75 percent of child abuse and neglect cases, Phillips said, and these problems are made worse by difficult financial times.
The program currently serves 455 children in Catawba, Caldwell and Burke counties and has about 130 volunteers.
The GAL program hopes to train 28 new volunteers, including 10 each from Catawba and Burke counties and eight from Caldwell County.