In Citrus County, over 300 children abused, abandoned and neglected are in the child welfare system. Most are 10 years of age and younger. They depend on lawyers, judges, social workers and foster parents to make sure they are safe, protected and provided the services necessary to overcome their circumstances.

Children in foster care exhibit higher rates of mental illness, school failure and involvement with the criminal justice system. Due to the lack of proper parenting and adult role modeling, their ability to cope with the stresses and strains of everyday life is typically compromised.

The Guardian ad Litem Program, a largely volunteer based organization, advocates for the safety and well-being of abused and neglected children. Volunteers have the power and authority to make a difference. Trained volunteers guarantee a higher level of protection and oversight and ensure decision-makers are focused on the child.

Regrettably, due to the lack of volunteers, not all of “our” children are provided this safety net. They must rely on “the system” for help.

Contact Diana Gisonni, 352-812-6971, diana.gisonni@gal.fl.gov, or visit www.guardianadlitem.org to learn more about becoming a volunteer.

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