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Guardian ad Litem program in Caldwell gets new home

The program serves as the voice of a child in protective custody cases during the court process.

A Southwest Idaho organization that helps children in crisis -- often facing abuse or neglect -- has a new home.

The 3rd District Guardian ad Litem program cut the ribbon Tuesday afternoon in Caldwell.

There are seven of these court-appointed special advocate groups all across Idaho. One for each judicial district.

Their main purpose is to serve as the voice of a child in those protective cases all throughout the court process.

The Guardian ad Litem is a program aimed at helping some of our community's most vulnerable children.

"So what we do is we meet with the children. We get to know them pretty darn well and we meet with their teachers, their biological parents, their foster parents, their medical professionals, anyone at school, that sort of a thing and we develop a plan for what we think would be in their best interest," said Christina Walker.

The program's Executive Director Christina Walker says just last year, the 3rd District Guardian ad Litem Program -- which serves Adams, Canyon, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, and Washington counties -- advocated for nearly a thousand children in protective custody.

"A very high percentage of children brought into the foster care system. Here in the 3rd District we represent about 92% to 93% of the children brought into care here," said Walker.

Helping to provide a voice for those children throughout the entire court process.

"It's really a three-pronged approach. We have the courts, we have the Department of Health and Welfare, and then we have the Guardians ad Litem, and they are the only ones who speak for children. They are the voice of children in child protection and particularly foster care cases," said Sen. Abby Lee, R- Fruitland.

State Sen. Abby Lee says this is not a mentor program, but an opportunity for volunteers to come in and look at all of the facets of the child's life and determine what's best for him or her.

"By and large this is our community coming forward to speak out for safety and protection of children in their own communities," said Lee.

Walker says the program helps children find safe and permanent homes.

"Less likely to come back into the system again. They're much more likely to have great outcomes in school, they're more likely to stay in school, graduate from school, have better grades in school, they're more likely to have the services that they need to succeed," said Walker.

The Guardian ad Litem Program is a nonprofit and is always in need of donations.

One of the best ways you can donate is with your time, as the program is in desperate need of more volunteers.