Q. How many children in Buncombe County are served by the GAL volunteers during the year?
A. In FY 17-18, 720 individual children were served by a network of 272 GAL volunteers. In FY 18-19, 723 children were served by the GAL volunteer network. One of the most vulnerable age groups within these numbers are the teens aging out of the system at 18. Although eligible to continue services through DSS until they turn 21, not all take advantage of this opportunity. On average 14 to 15 teens find themselves in this situation every year.
Q. Once a case is opened at DSS, how long is a child in “in the system?”
A. Typically the goal is to have each child achieve permanency in whatever form that may take within 12 months of the case being opened. Most cases are closed within 12 to 18 months of the initial intake.
Q. Why does the Guardian ad Litem Association of Buncombe County need to raise funds?
A. 100% of the children/families served by DSS and the GAL program live in poverty. 30% of the children are placed with kinship providers who receive no monthly stipend for the care they provide. Only licensed foster care providers receive funding from the government.
Q. What types of items does the Guardian ad Litem Association fund?
A. About 50% of our funding goes towards enrichment activities including camps, athletic programs, class field trips, school year end activities, gymnastics, swimming lessons, driver’s education, etc. Other budgeted items include basic necessities such as clothing, school supplies, education needs such as tutoring, computers, etc.
During the COVID 19 pandemic, we are seeing more requests for educational items and activities for homebound youth. The longer this situation continues, we anticipate more humanitarian requests from the children and families we serve.
Q. Who are our Community Partners?
A. The GALABC has developed a number of key relationships in the community. We work closely with the YMCA of WNC to send children and teens to their overnight Camp Watia near Bryson City. Since the camp opened in 2016, we have had 50 children participate. We have another 15 youth signed up for 2020 if the camp is permitted to open. We also have numerous children participate in the Y’s day camps and after school programs.
The Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity and Two Men and a Truck support older teens and young adults moving out on their own. Blue Ridge Orthodontics supports the children who need orthodontia through their Blue Star Program and cannot afford treatment.
The Community Foundation of WNC, Walnut Cove Members Association, Cathedral of All Souls, Zoe Dental and a large number of private donors support the GALABC financially.
Q. When a child’s case is closed, do these children have any additional access to services from DSS and the GALABC?
A. All teens regardless of their case status in the court system have access to programming through LINKS after the age of 13 to develop a network of supports and receive skills training to aid in their transition to adulthood. At age 18, each teen can decide to continue services through DSS until the age of 21. We support programming and unmet financial needs of these most vulnerable youth until they are no longer involved with Social Services.
Q. How is it determined how my donation will be spent?
A. Each individual Guardian ad Litem can identify the unique needs of the child/children they represent and submit a request to the Association. Most GALs have only one or two cases unlike the DSS Social Workers who may have up to a dozen cases that they are working at any specific time. We also coordinate with DSS directly on the needs of the older teens and young adults who are in the 18 to 21 year old program. Once a teen reaches 18 years old, they no longer have an assigned GAL although they are still eligible for services through DSS.
The GALABC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. For more information visit www.gala-bc.org We are very good stewards of our financial resources. With no paid staff and minimum overhead, the vast majority of our funding goes directly to the children we represent
Q. How do I find out about the Guardian ad Litem of Buncombe County volunteer program?