9 appointed as child court advocates

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Nine new guardian ad litem child advocates for Wilson, Nash and Edgecombe counties were recently sworn in.

Edgecombe County District Court Judge Wayne Boyette administered the 7th Judicial District volunteer advocates’ oath on April 20. The new guardians ad litem are:

• Betty Rivera of Elm City

• Susie Blackburn of Wilson

• Debora Powell of Wilson

• Ruby Freeman-Heath of Wilson

• Alison Rhodes of Tarboro

• Teresa Webb of Tarboro

• Lenora Coley of Rocky Mount

• Junicah Richardson of Whitakers

• Aneika Dickens of Raleigh

Guardians ad litem are appointed to advocate for the interests of abused and neglected children in court. They work with attorney advocates to provide team representation to minors, who have full party status in trial and appellate proceedings.

The volunteer child advocates conduct independent investigations to determine the facts of each case, the needs of each child and the resources appropriate to meet those needs. They also determine the wishes or expressed preferences of the children and report them to the court.

All children who social services departments allege to have been abused or neglected receive legal advocacy services, according to the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, which administers the guardian ad litem program.

“Your words ring loud and clear in this court on behalf of children,” Boyette told the new advocates at their swearing-in. “We hear you and it is very important.”

Regional administrators are seeking more residents of Wilson, Nash and Edgecombe counties to serve as guardians ad litem. There are roughly 5,100 such volunteer advocates throughout the state.

For more information on becoming a guardian ad litem, call 252-823-0420 or 1-800-982-4041 or visit www.volunteerforgal.org.