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Winfield helps abused children find brighter future
By Lauren Allen
Lea Winfield, a senior at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, changes people's lives everyday.
Winfield is a trained volunteer that is appointed by the court to advocate for the best interests of an abused or neglected child. In court, the Guardian Ad Litem serves as an important voice for the child they represent.
Also as a volunteer, they want to ensure that all of the children they represent remain safe, and that their homes are permanent.
Winfield became involved in child advocacy during the summer of 2004 while searching for ways to spend her spare time. She searched the LSOP website where she came across Guardian Ad Litem and was immediately interested in getting involved.
"Just knowing that you have helped to turn a negative past into a hopefully positive future brings a sense that you've successfully accomplished something great," Winfield said.
To become a member of Guardian Ad Litem, you first have to get in contact with the county you wish to work for. The initial training program takes 25-30 hours to complete, usually in the evenings or on the weekends.
After you are assigned a case, you will spend 10 to 15 hours per month interviewing parties, reviewing reports, attending court (if scheduled that month), and visiting with the child. The time commitment varies from case to case.
"My favorite part is knowing that I have made a difference in someone's life," explains Winfield.To learn more about Guardian Ad Litem and how to become a child advocate, please visit www.nccourts.org/Citizens/GAL.