What is a VAC?
Volunteer Advocates for Children (VACs) are caring adults who undergo a background check, interview, and training to serve abused, abandoned, and neglected children– those children often known as “dependents” or “foster children.” VACs meet with dependent children in their most natural setting to determine the child’s current state, interests, and needs. Ultimately, VACs relay valuable information to Guardians ad Litem, who in turn, advocate for the best interest of these deserving children in and out of court.
Can lay people participate in the GAL Program in Orange County?
Yes. Non-attorneys may partner with the GAL as a VAC (Volunteer Advocates for Children). VACs are trained volunteers who work with the attorney GALs in gathering records, interviewing witnesses, meeting the child, and monitoring that child’s progress as well as the Court’s orders. Our VACs come from all walks of life– retirees, medical professionals, educators, homemakers, and everything in between.
How do I become a VAC?
If you are interested in serving as a Volunteer Advocate for Children in Orange County, you may contact the VAC Program at the Legal Aid Society. You will be asked to complete an application, provide the names of three personal references, and attend a free educational program consisting of an in-depth training. You will also be asked to submit to a criminal background and employment verification check free of charge, and an in-person interview before receiving certification for service. For additional questions, contact Ms. Kamia Taylor, the Volunteer Advocates for Children Program Coordinator, at [email protected] or (407) 841-8310 x3125.
What kind of time commitment is required?
You make that decision based on the time you have available to give and what you want to gain from this volunteer experience. If your time is limited, we can offer you assignments that are either one-time tasks or otherwise of short duration. If you are seeking more ongoing involvement with the child and our staff, you can choose to be part of a team consisting of a volunteer attorney GAL, in-house staff attorney, case coordinators, and other volunteers who work together to maintain monthly contact with the children, attend court hearings, and secure needed services for the child.
What skills are needed to serve as a VAC?
You need to be able to relate to children and adults from backgrounds different than your own, think logically, listen well, and express your ideas in writing.
What resources are available to help support VACs?
Legal Aid provides ongoing support services for each VAC, including advice and direction, case management supervision, mentor program, and resource referral.