Guardian ad Litem gets five new volunteers

Guardian ad Litem
Jennie McKeon/The Sun
Published: Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 08:54 AM.

Sergeant Angie Hogeboom, an investigator with the Walton County Sheriff's Office, chose to enter law enforcement after spending four years in foster care with her brother as a young girl.

At the age of seven, she was adopted by "a wonderful family," the mother of three recalled. Today, it takes a team of hard-working individuals to provide these happy endings.

As a way to pay it forward and to help save the lives of children in crisis, Hogeboom, entered the Guardian ad Litem volunteer program.

"Since working with Captain Charisse Rivers on criminal investigations, it is a cause that has become dear to my heart," Hogeboom said. "It probably would've made a big difference in my life."

A Guardian ad Litem is a court-appointed volunteer who represents the best interests of a child during case proceedings. Training involves 30 hours of court observation, classroom and video instruction and in some cases, pairing up with a mentor. Guardian ad Litem volunteers visit with their child, or in some cases children, once a month and write a report at each visit to provide recommendations to the child's case manager at Department of Families.

"First and foremost, they are advocates for the children," explained Rosemary Ash, circuit director for Guardian ad Litem.  "They advocate holistically, doing whatever they can to improve the child's life."

In Ash's circuit, which covers Escambia to Walton County, are 1,750 children, 150 of which live here in Walton County. There are only 581 guardians — 28 in Walton County alone. With those kinds of numbers, guardians are often representing more than one child.

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