What is a Court Appointed Advocate?
A court appointed advocate is a person appointed by the court to assist victims of abuse or neglect. Most of the victims of abuse or neglect are children, but advocates are also able to help adults and the elderly. The court may appoint advocates in family matters involving domestic violence, elder abuse, and child abuse. Families of homicide victims often get a court appointed advocate to help with the trauma and aftermath of such an incident.
Volunteers who wish to work as a court appointed advocate receive training for a specific area. The advocate speaks on behalf of the child or adult that he or she is helping and tries to keep what is best for the victim in mind. Often, the advocate will work as a liaison between the victim and the court system. Court appointed advocates attend all court hearings on behalf of the victim as well as any court ordered conferences or appointments.
As part of the investigation process, the court appointed advocate will interview parents, family members, teachers, or medical providers who have seen the victim. The representative prepares a report of the findings and present it to the court along with additional documents such as medical records or police reports. Part of this report will include a plan of care for the victim or a resolution for the victim’s situation.
One of the more common court appointed advocates programs is that of child advocacy to give children a voice to their concerns in a court of law. Two of the advocate jobs that work with youthful victims are Guardian ad Litem and court appointed special advocates. These advocates help children and teenagers who may be going through family issues such as divorce, domestic violence or other types of abuse. Advocates often help juvenile victims who are placed in foster care for their own safety and who may require therapy or other assistance. Both the Guardian ad Litem and the special advocates help these victims by providing emotional support as well as guidance through the court system.
Some skills that are required to be a court appointed advocate are the capability to communicate with the victim and the victim’s family as well as the ability to remain objective. The advocate must also be able to compile the facts of the case and present the facts to the court in a timely manner. It is also important for a court appointment advocate to work well with others since the advocate needs to cooperate with members of the judicial system including police officers and lawyers.
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