LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Department of Social Services is hoping to recruit more Guardian Ad Litem volunteers this year.
The program held an appreciation luncheon for the Guardian Ad Litem volunteers to help do just that.
“We are always looking for volunteers,” said Patty Brigman, assistant director of the program. “It’s not time consuming, it may be at the beginning, but after that we require volunteers see the kids once a month to make sure everything is going smoothly.”
There are currently 15 volunteers in Scotland County, but DSS needs more.
The volunteers work with the children taken into custody for neglect and abuse cases. Volunteers monitor an assigned child and spend one-on-one time with the child. They also report to the Guardian Ad Litem and provide the child “with a voice” in the court.
“Our volunteers go out and talk with the kids, family members and foster parents to make sure the child’s needs are being met and their voice is being heard,” Brigman said. “We’re always looking for great volunteers that are dedicated.”
Each volunteer will go through a training before being sworn in by a judge. Volunteers are assigned no more than two cases at a time.
“They are catalysts for change and they really go above and beyond,” said DSS worker Rebekah Oxendine. “We are lucky to have such great volunteers, I just hope we can recruit some more.”
Volunteers at Wednesday’s lunch urged the community to get involved with the program because it’s a life changing-experience.
“I joined this program to make a difference and keep the kids connected to those who love them,” said six-month volunteer, Robert Macy. “It really helps connect the dots because sometimes these kids cannot see all the dots at once.”
Marcy said it was “critical” to have caring adults in the program.
“That really is setting the standard for their life,” he said.
Most of the volunteers are passionate about the issue. They see it as more than a volunteer opportunity.
“I get to interact with the foster children, parents and caretakers and I often get the kids reunited with the parents,” said Charlie Barrow, who has volunteered for about four years. “I get passionate when the parents don’t want to get the kids back.”
Barrow got started when he took custody of two of his grandchildren for a year.
“It’s a personal investment that pays off,” he said. “There are a lot of agencies that care for the kids, but there is no entity that is so interested in the kids, period.”
To become a volunteer, contact the Department of Social Service at 910-277-2500.