Guardian ad Litem Program
Guardian ad Litem Program
September, 2012 Newsletter
Naeime Livingston 792-5352
Reginald O’Rourke 792-5356 Raleigh,
Fonda Lyons-Cousar 792-5357
Margaret Hertzler 792-5355
Cheryl Hanes 792-5359
Ernest Wilder 792-5358
Carol Nobles 792-5354
Carrie Stopka 792-5353
INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
We would like to express our thanks and appreciation to GAL child advocates
who attended our August In-Service Training (What GAL Child Advocates Need to
2 Know to Ensure Appropriate Educational Services are Provided to Children/Youth
in Foster Care Attending the Public School System). We also would like to express
A Conversation With a our thanks to Jason Langberg, Equal Justice Works Fellow and POPP Director,
Volunteer Child Advocate Jen Story, POPP Legal Fellow, and Peggy Nicholson, Powell Fellow and J-RAP Di-
Camp G.R.A.C.E. 4
rector who facilitated this training.
Triangle Family Services 5-6
Achieving Permanency for
Relative Notification Policy 8
Wake County GAL Book & Coffee Club
9 Beginning October 2012, with the help of two of our volunteer child advo-
cates, we will be organizing a book and coffee club. We hope that the club
Parenting Programs 10
will provide you, our volunteers, with the opportunity to meet for discussion
Up-Coming Events and exchange of ideas with your fellow Guardians ad Litem. The book club
11 will focus on reading and discussing books that will help enhance our advoca-
cy for children in care.
“Three Little Words” by Ashley Rhodes-Courter is the recommended reading
for the first book club meeting which will be held on October 10, 2012 from
10AM to 12PM. Information regarding the location will be emailed to all
Wake County Child Advocates. We welcome any suggestions regarding fu-
ture recommended readings.
Spotlight on Sam Quattrocchi
Child Advocate Since 2009
I had a difficult but very rewarding childhood growing up in the US as part of an immigrant fami-
ly. I mention this because I am grateful for those special adults in my life (in addition to my par-
ents) that encouraged and guided me to successful adulthood in a strange land. This experience
made me realize that each interaction we have with a child can have a profound effect on the child.
As a result, I developed a strong desire to be a resource for children whenever possible.
I did some sports coaching and tutoring while in college which was very rewarding, but as I got
serious about my career, got married and was usually around while my wife raised two daughters,
I convinced myself that I was too busy to continue working with children. However, the thought
of working with youth again persisted to the point that I made an oath that when I retired I would
volunteer in some capacity helping children.
Upon retirement, I began the process of deciding how I could best serve our youth. I believed that
sports coaching was my best option but wasn’t sure how to begin the process. So, as most people
do today, I did an internet search for volunteer opportunities in the Triangle. The search was over-
whelming in the number of possibilities. But one jumped out immediately – to be an advocate for
children that had been abused or neglected or as we know it; becoming a Guardian ad Litem.
What better way to serve children? But wait, this isn’t something for which I had experience or
even been exposed to other than what I read, see or hear in the media. This is a job for experts, I
told myself, so keep looking. But something kept pulling me back to the importance for these kids
to have someone responsible to ensure their safety and that their needs would be met during the
most important years of their life. I could resist no longer so I took the plunge and applied. And I
am glad I did.
Even though I was still apprehensive about my ability to adequately serve these children, I was
thrilled when I was accepted and told to report for training in October, 2009. The GAL training
was one of the best educational programs I’ve received. I wish everybody could have that experi-
ence. Upon graduating and being sworn-in, I knew two things for sure; I had the materials I need-
ed and an exceptional staff to support me.
I was both excited and anxious when I got the phone call at the end of 2009 asking if I was ready
for my first case: excited because I wanted to get started but anxious when I learned that, if I chose
to accept it, my first case involved four children of a different race than myself and included a
young girl and three teenage boys. My desire to get started overruled my anxiety so of course I
accepted. In hindsight I couldn’t have asked for a better first case because of its complexity. It
qualified as a fast track to becoming a GAL. I took out my training notes and decided to begin by
creating a task plan and a timeline which I shared with my supervisor who filled in the gaps and
provided advice on how to proceed. The GAL training and materials had successfully prepared
me to represent the best interest of the children while investigating the facts of the case, writing
court reports and participating in court. Of course my supervisor was an invaluable resource
throughout. I’d like to say that my first case had a happy ending but in truth the outcome was
mixed. I was unable to reach one teen whose life did not take a positive turn. I can find some
solace knowing that the other three children are happy in their respective permanent placements.
I am proud to call myself a Wake County GAL and talk about the program to everyone I meet. I
am so thankful for all of you volunteers and the outstanding GAL staff that serve our community
in this capacity. I know firsthand that the work can be difficult and time consuming but there is no
greater satisfaction than being a resource for a child to achieve permanency no matter what form it
WWW.WAKECOUNTYGAL.ORG PAGE 3
A Conversation With a Volunteer Child Advocate
Danielle Seale, Advocating Since 2007
Why you became a Guardian Ad Litem and what initially influenced you?
I first learned about the Guardian ad Litem program while working as an intern with the City of Charlotte during
the summer following my freshman year of college. The topic of the program very much appealed to my inter-
ests (law/justice/public safety + children + advocacy/public service) but at the time I did not have the availability
in my schedule to commit to volunteering. A few years later, once I had made the decision to stay in Raleigh for
graduate school and knew I would be in the area for at least another two years, I was finally able to submit my
application! After meeting with Naeime and learning more about the role of a GAL volunteer I knew this was
somewhere I wanted to spend my time.
How many years have you volunteered?
I was sworn-in as a GAL volunteer in August 2007. I can’t believe it has been five years already!
What were your initial feelings coming out of training and taking on your first case?
I felt that I learned so much through the volunteer training but I was still a bit (understandably) nervous to make
my first contact and first visit. I wasn’t sure how I would be received by the parents and attorneys as a 21-year-
old, fresh out of college with relatively limited life experiences. These worries soon subsided, aided in part by
the fact that my first several cases were each very different and I was able to be exposed to a wide variety of situ-
ations and events early in the volunteering process. I took full advantage of the program supervisors’ offers to
review multiple drafts of court reports and listen patiently as I voiced my every thought and bounced ideas
around related to my first cases. Their guidance and feedback went a long way in helping me quickly feel secure
and confident in my interactions and recommendations!
What success stories would you want to share?
I have found equal satisfaction in cases where the child(ren) is successfully reunified with biological family
members and where adoption or another form of legal permanence is the end result. By observing that each fam-
ily and situation is so very different from the next (even if two might seem quite similar on paper), I have learned
the importance of judging outcomes relative to the facts. For example, reunification in six months might be the
definition of success for one case, where an adoption finalized in 18 months might be the highest mark of success
in another. Also though my service as a GAL volunteer, my concept and understanding of “family” has evolved
to a much broader definition, one that is based on the simple premise that family can be whoever loves you.
What do you know now that you wished you knew when you first started volunteering?
I wish I had known (I’m sure they told us this in training but this type of thing can take a while to fully grasp)
that it is perfectly okay to disagree. Not everyone on the team (social worker, parent attorneys, judges, etc.) is
going to agree on certain recommendations (and even facts in some cases!) but that that it is perfectly fine. As a
volunteer, as long as you have advocated for your child(ren) to the best of your ability by making honest,
thoughtful, and well-intentioned recommendations, you have done your job and the final decisions/outcomes are
out of your hands.
Written by a Relative Caregiver
In promoting and protecting the best interest of children we serve, and in conducting our investigations to deter-
mine the needs and the resources appropriate to meet those needs, we recognize that one of our most effective
advocacies might be the provision of the needed resources. The following statements describe the experiences
and benefits of two boys who attended a special needs camp in July. The Friends of Guardian ad Litem provid-
ed scholarships for each boy to attend the camp. The scholarship was the result of effective advocacy of the
GAL and memorable demonstration of special care from the Wake County Friends of the Guardian ad Litem
Camp G.R.A.C.E is a Summer Day Camp for children and youth with Pervasive Developmental Disorders
(PDD) and for children and youth on the Autism Spectrum. The camp is sponsored by the YMCA and by A
Small Miracle, INC., that provides comprehensive services for children and adults with autism. We understand
that there are more locations of Camp G.R.A.C.E. in Wake County, but our boys attended the camp sponsored
by the Kraft Family YMCA in Apex.
The G.R.A.C.E. in Camp G.R.A.C.E. stands for Growth. Recognition. Achievement. Character, and Encourage-
ment, and based on our boys’ experiences, the acronym is fitting. It became evident to us that many hours of
planning, training, and preparation had gone into getting camp ready for our children. At least two weeks be-
fore camp, there was an orientation to familiarize families with the camp and for the children to meet and inter-
act with the counselors. This benefit addressed the anxiety PDD or autistic children may have about the unfa-
During camp, our boys’ experiences included a structured schedule that kept them fully engaged throughout
each day. Having structure and having constructive activities with the absence of an abundance of down time
are a must for them. They left home each morning with their swimwear and towels and always returned with
wet clothes from their time in the pool with their counselors and their experiences using a personal floatation
Our boys came home each day with a unique work of art they had completed to show off their fine motor skills,
creativity, and tactile senses with paints and other art objects. They also brought home a comment about how
they had enjoyed one of the special activities. The special activities they enjoyed once each week included
horse therapy where they focused on their balance and body awareness as they rode horses each Wednesday.
Yoga each Tuesday provided sensory related benefits. On Thursdays they had dog therapy, where they got an
opportunity to do what was comfortable for them, i.e. simply watch, pet, brush, or feed the dogs some treats.
Our children love repetition and certainly both the daily assembly and the time of devotions addressed their so-
cial skills and communication while incorporating music, musical instruments, songs, auditory skills, and charac-
ter building activities.
As visual learners, our boys often mimic what they see others do. During a two week “Building Blocks” session
they got plenty of opportunities to mimic positive behaviors and actions. Although our youngest attempted to
mimic a behavior he saw in another camper, the positive so overwhelmed that attempt. The counselors placed
emphasis on positive behavior, good effort, and on participation. We could see that they were trained to con-
stantly look for opportunities to praise or otherwise reinforce positive behavior. Common reinforcements such
as verbal praise, high fives, hugs, and a camp-wide recognition (such as Camper of the Day awards) appeared
to be contagious. Our boys came home with a daily communication card telling what and how they did. Every
card was laced with lots of positive statements like “super, great, terrific, awesome, so much fun,” or words like
he loved… On Family Day, the last day of camp each of them received one of the signature “Paper Plate
We are grateful for the opportunities our boys had at Camp G.R.A.C.E. where they had fun, knew that indeed
they are special, felt safe, and enjoyed pleasant activities that were therapeutic and fun.
WWW.WAKECOUNTYGAL.ORG PAGE 5
Triangle Family Services
Since 1937, Triangle Family Services has been helping families and individuals overcome
life’s challenges by giving them the tools they need to move away from crisis and into more
stable and healthy life situations.
TFS accomplishes their mission through:
Individual and Family Counseling
FinancialStability Focused on Consumer Credit Counseling Services and Emergency Hous-
FamilySafety Programs that include Supervised Visitation / Exchange as well as an Abuser
Below is a list of services offered to families and children in need of help:
Mental Health Services:
Triangle Family Services provides licensed clinicians and psychiatrists for quality counseling
to individuals and families living throughout the Triangle. A multi-disciplinary approach is
used to ensure every client is receiving the most effective treatment to meet his/her specific
Areas of treatment include, but are not limited to the following:
Anxiety and Mood Disorders
Behavioral Disorders and AD/HD
Substance Use / Abuse Disorder
Past or Current Trauma
Relationship Conflict / Divorce
Treatment Methods includes, but are not limited to, the following:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Marital, Couples, and Family Therapy
Parenting Education Classes for Separated or Divorced Parents
WWW.WAKECOUNTYGAL.ORG PAGE 6
Triangle Family Services cont.
Developmentally Appropriate CBT
Trauma focused CBT
Psycho-education and Behavior Management for Parents
Children and Adolescent groups on Anger Management for those who have witnessed Do-
DOSE (Domestic Offenders Sentenced to Education) Program
The largest batterers treatment program in the state, this six-month program of 26 sessions
helps more that 95% of those successfully completing the program to resume a normal life
without additional domestic violence offences.
This program allows children to have safe visits with their non-custodial parent and helps keep
victims of domestic violence safe during the exchange of the children.
Subject material: Addresses the key budget and credit issues that affect most of our client base.
Teaches how to build and maintain a budget and how to improve or repair credit.
HUD-Approved Housing Counseling
This program provides individual counseling to potential homebuyers, to homeowners who are
behind or are in danger of falling behind on their mortgage payments, and to senior citizen
homeowners who could benefit from a reverse mortgage.
For more information please visit: www.tfsnc.org
WWW.WAKECOUNTYGAL.ORG PAGE 7
Achieving Permanency for Older Youth
Permanent, supportive relationships are needed for older youth to become self-sufficient and thrive in
early adulthood. Youth who age out of foster care without lifelong connections to a loving adult face
many challenges. These youth are at high risk for early parenthood, involvement with the criminal jus-
tice system, insufficient employment, housing, and physical and mental health problems.
Permanence is an enduring family relationship that is safe, promotes well-being, and assures lifelong
connections. The role of the Guardian ad Litem is to provide advocacy that promotes permanency for
older youth in the foster care system who cannot return to the care of their biological parents. During
2011 in Wake County, fourteen children ages 13-18 were adopted.
With a focus on the need for permanence, how can we best advocate for teenagers?
1. Increase adoptions for older youth. Finding permanent homes for teenagers can be challenging.
Some teens have significant behavioral or emotional problems, live in residential or group care or
enter foster care late in their childhood. These youth are most at risk for aging out of the foster care
system without a permanent home. We must not be skeptical about permanency for older youth.
Instead, realize that many older youth want to be part of a forever family. Instead of asking the
question “Do you want to be adopted?” (youth may answer “no”), ask the question “How can we
work together to get you lifelong connections to loving adults?”
2. Promote kinship adoption. Relatives are a source of permanency for many youth. A diligent
search for kin, including paternal relatives, is needed. The Guardian ad Litem can ask the teen
about their family, including who they have visited, spent holidays with or heard their parents talk
about. Long-term foster care with relatives can also be explored as a possible permanency option.
Some kin prefer not to adopt or become guardians but are committed to providing a permanent
home, which can mean stability and permanent family connections for the youth. The Guardian ad
Litem can advocate for services to meet the needs of kin caregivers to support the placement.
3. Establish a true permanency goal for every older youth. Permanent plans include reunification,
adoption and formal long-term placement with relatives or a court appointed caretaker (includes
custody or guardianship). APPLA is a long-term foster care resulting in independent living when
the youth reaches the age of maturity. When APPLA must be the plan, the Guardian ad Litem can
advocate for services to help the teen learn life skills and develop long-term connections with sup-
4. Reduce the time children remain in care without permanence. Concurrent planning aims to re-
duce the time children linger in care. If reunification cannot occur, concurrent planning must begin
early with efforts to achieve permanency. The Guardian ad Litem can advocate for a diligent search
The purpose of foster care is to provide safety and nurture on a temporary basis. When reunification is
not possible, efforts to find supportive adults and enduring families for these teenagers is vital. Re-
member that children are never too old to be connected with a forever family!
Relative Notification Policy
When the decision has been made to remove a child from parental custody, federal law (Fostering
Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008) requires agencies to exercise due
diligence to notify all close adult relatives of a child (including any other adult relatives suggested
by the parents) within 30 days of the child’s removal from the parent, of their options to partici-
pate in the care and placement of the child. Notification to relatives is subject to exceptions due
to family or domestic violence. The intent of this part of the legislation is to ensure adult relatives
of children under the care and supervision of county Departments are given the opportunity and
consideration to be placement resources and/or to be able to participate in the child’s care plan.
Due diligence means those efforts that are reasonably likely to identify and provide notice to adult
relatives and kin suggested by parents, as well as adult maternal and paternal grandparents, aunts,
uncles, siblings, great grandparents, nieces and nephews. Efforts include, but are not limited to:
Interviewing the child and the child’s parents or caretakers about the child’s relatives and their
preferences for placement.
Using family decision making meetings such as Child and Family Team (CFT) Meetings and
Team Decision Making (TDM) Meetings to ask participants to help identify other relatives of
Contacting identified relatives and requesting names of other relatives, divulging only enough
information necessary to help identify additional relatives and assess their interest in accepting
placement of the child or providing a connection.
Assessing internal agency databases such as child welfare and child support.
Utilizing internet based search tools.
This legislation strengthens NC’s current laws and policies as they relate to relatives. Relatives
are the placement of preference for children in care. The agency should work with parents and
caretakers to notify relatives/.kin they have suggested in addition to pursuing those close relatives
that are mandated to receive notification. In keeping with family-centered proactive case work,
the agency should inform parents of the requirement to notify relatives beyond those they have
identified. Parents may be able to provide necessary background and history of these relatives to
assist the agency in determining their suitability. In situations of family or domestic violence, it
may not be appropriate to notify such relatives if it is deemed that it would pose a risk to the child
or caretaker. If after a thorough assessment of domestic violence, the agency deems that it is not
in the child’s best interest to contact a relative or kin member then the justification should be thor-
oughly documented by the social worker in the child’s case file.
WWW.WAKECOUNTYGAL.ORG PAGE 9
Trauma Group “Seeking Safety”
For Women Involved in Child Welfare
Seeking Safety is an evidence-based treatment for individuals who have experienced a history of
trauma and substance abuse. Parents’ past or present experiences of trauma can affect their ability
to keep their children safe, work effectively with child welfare staff, and engage in their own or
their children’s mental health treatment.
Goals of Group Include:
Safety as the overarching goal: Helping clients attain safety in their thinking, behavior, emo-
tions, and relationships.
Integrated treatment: Ability to address trauma or PTSD while concurrently supporting sub-
stance abuse recovery.
Sample group topics include: PTSD: Taking Back Your Power; Detaching from Emotional
Pain: Grounding; Compassion; Setting Boundaries in Relationships; Coping with Triggers; Heal-
ing from Anger; Exploring How Trauma Histories May Impact Parenting
Group Member Criteria:
Adult females involved with the Child Welfare System (CPS Assessment, In-Home or Foster
Care) who have history of trauma
Willingness to discuss symptoms and affective experience; Ability to accept present-centered fo-
cus of the group
Cognitive ability to understand and tolerate a complex interpersonal environment;
Ability to accept feedback from other members and from group leaders;
An updated mental health assessment will be scheduled prior to group participation to ensure ap-
propriateness of client needs;
Meets diagnostic and income eligibility for IPRS or Medicaid/Medicare
Time/Date: Ten week group meetings scheduled to begin on Thursday, September 6th from 1:30-
2:45. Group meeting location: Wake County Human Services, 3010 Falstaff Road, Raleigh, NC
27610. Sorry no child care is available.
Group Therapists: Alana Frazier, LCSW and Jim Barbee, LCSW
WWW.WAKECOUNTYGAL.ORG PAGE 10
Many of the recommendations that GAL child advocates and WCHS social workers make to the court include
parents’ participation in “a WCHS-approved parenting program.” There are several such programs available,
both through WCHS and other agencies such as SafeChild. Those programs are tailored to meet the needs
and circumstances of parents. Three of the parenting programs offered by WCHS this fall are:
Parenting Adolescents: This class begins on October 2 and is held on Tuesday evenings from 6–7:30 pm. The
goal of this class is to enable parents of children 11 to 17 to describe the tasks and stages of adolescence and to
identify the stage their child is experiencing. The parent will learn how to adjust parenting behaviors to allow
maximum growth for their child and how to communicate effectively. Activities include discussion of develop-
mental tasks and states, the needs of adolescents, the ways teens differ from younger children and adults, im-
proving communication between teens and caregivers, discipline and consequences for teens, and anger and
Positive Parenting: This class begins on October 3 and is held on Wednesdays from 11:30 am–1:30 pm. The
goal of this class is to develop the ability of a parent of a child 3 to 10 to communicate appropriately with his/
her child, to understand a child’s needs, and to discipline the child without abuse. Topics include child develop-
ment, developing communication skills, increasing understanding of why children act as they do, learning vari-
ous methods of discipline without corporal punishment, expanding child management skills, and anger and
Parenting Infants & Toddlers: This class begins on October 3 and is held on Wednesday evenings from 6:00 pm
–7:30 pm. The goal of this class is to teach basic information about nurturing, attachment, and appropriate de-
velopmental behaviors to clients who are pregnant or have a children under the age of 2 ½. Activities include
viewing videos about infant and toddler development, guest presentations relating to nutrition, dental health,
child safety and the importance of play, and videos and discussion about the effects of abuse and neglect on
infants and toddlers, especially domestic violence. The class includes discussions about the Circle of Security
(attachment), appropriate responses to a child’s needs, and how to teach a child to regulate his/her emotions.
Appropriate methods for disciplining infants and toddlers are also discussed.
If a parent on your case has been ordered to participate in a parenting program, it can be beneficial to talk
with the social worker about whether or not appropriate referrals have been made and that they are sched-
uled for the class that best meets their needs. Also remember that if a parent has a substance abuse diagno-
sis, the person must be in treatment and have 60 days clean before being referred to any class.
The following books are recommended for those caring or advocating for children with an au-
tism spectrum disorder
“Since We’re Friends”
By: Celeste Shally. Illustrated by David Harrington
“My Anxious Mind: A Teens Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic”
by: Michael A. Tompkins, Ph.D. and Katherine A. Martinez, Psy.D. Illustrated by Michael Sloan.
“A Quest for Social Skills”
By JoEllen Cumpata & Susan Fell
“Different Not Less”
By Temple Grandin
Wednesday, September 12 GAL Supper Club will be held in Raleigh on Wednesday, September
12th, at Taverna Agora on Glenwood Avenue. You can check out their web site and their menu at
this address: www.tavernaagora.com All our volunteers, volunteers-in-training, friends of the
program and their spouses/significant others are invited. If you plan to attend, please email Fred
Ames at (email@example.com ) to let him know that you will be there and if you plan to bring
someone with you. Please respond to Fred Ames no later than Tuesday, September 11 th. We
have been to Taverna Agora a number of times and it has always been one of our most popular
spots , so join us for a repeat performance. We have made reservations for 6:15 PM - hope to see
there! Taverna Agora 6101 Glenwood Ave. Raleigh, NC 27612 919-881-8333
Thursday, September 20, 2012 GAL In-Service Training: “A View From the Bench: What the
Court Needs to Know In Order to Expedite Permanency for Children in Care” This training will be
held at the John H. Baker Public Safety Center located at 330 South Salisbury Street Raleigh, NC
27602 in the First Floor Conference Room C170. This training will be from 6:00—8:00PM. Our
presenter will be The Honorable Judge Monica Bousman, Wake County District Court Judge.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012 GAL Book & Coffee Club: Beginning October 2012, with the help of
two of our volunteer child advocates we will be organizing a book and coffee club. We hope that
the club will provide you, our volunteers, with the opportunity to meet for discussion and ex-
change of ideas with your fellow Guardians ad Litem. The book club will focus on reading and dis-
cussing books that will help enhance our advocacy for children in care.
Friday, October 26, 2012 GAL In-Service Training: “What Needs to Happen When Adoption Be-
comes the Permanent Plan of Care for Children Placed in Foster Care?” This training will be held
at the John H. Baker Public Safety Center located at 330 South Salisbury Street Raleigh, NC 27602
in the First Floor Conference Room C170. This training will be from 10:00AM—12:00PM. Our
presenters will be from the Wake County Human Services Adoption Unit and the Wake County
Clerk of Court.
Friday, November 16, 2012 Testifying In Court: GAL Training Administrator Ruth Kravitz will be
facilitating Testifying In Court. The goal is to prepare Guardian ad Litem Child Advocates to com-
petently testify in court and to lower their anxiety about doing so. Some of the topics covered are:
Rules of Evidence, hearsay, burden of proof, GAL & Attorney Advocate roles, preparing for the
hearing, how to testify, establishing credibility, and direct and cross examinations (with video
clips). The training will allow advocates brainstorm about how to make testifying a more comfort-
Happy Birthday to Our Volunteer Child Advocates!
Tanit Romero Pamela Prather Jackie Saber
Stacey McDaniel Karee Koob Kaye Denning
Shirley Jennings Alisa Garvey Christina Nix
Nancy Goodyear Steve Polilli Jacquelyn Wilkins
Kelly Hodge Julia Lee Megan Sadler
Nanci McInnes Maria Correa Ashley Williams
Anna Erb LaVonda Armstrong Molly Miser
Lisa Schmaltz Karen Kistler Ted Williams
Dorothy Sutherland Kimberly Blackshear Dorothy Richards
Jennifer Tisdale Jenny Doyle Debra Milkowski