More than 340 abused and neglected children are currently involved with Lake County Courts. Most of them are younger than 12 and have been removed from their parents because of alcohol or drug addiction. A guardian ad litem is a trained volunteer appointed by the court to advocate on behalf of the child. The volunteer works as part of a team with a volunteer supervisor and program attorney. The GAL becomes familiar with the child’s case and makes recommendations to the judge to ensure they grow up in a safe, stable and permanent home. Research has shown that when a dependent child is assigned to a GAL volunteer, they spend less time in foster care and do better in school. They are more likely to receive the services they need to overcome their circumstances and more likely to acquire the skills to succeed in life. Eligible volunteers must be at least 21 years of age, complete a 30-hour pre-service training program and pass a criminal background check. Volunteers should expect to spend an average of 10-15 hours a month on a case. Most cases last 10-12 months. Support and guidance are provided by an assigned mentor, a volunteer supervisor and a program attorney.