BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB)– Similar to its name, Guardian Ad Litem’s mission is to “add light” to the lives of child abuse victims, and they need your help to do it. The program is looking to gain volunteers that would stay with a child victim throughout their entire court case.

Fred Hapner, the 14th Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program Circuit Director, said the volunteer role is pivotal for a child who may need extra support and a mentor during a traumatic time.

The 14th judicial circuit encompasses six counties: Bay, Calhoun, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson and Washington.

“Our hope with our program is that the volunteer or staff member that is assigned is able to stay with the child throughout the entirety of the case which could be sadly up to two years sometimes,” he said.

According to Hapner, child abuse cases throughout the area are a lot more common than you think.

“In Bay County alone, we are assisting in 265 court cases with around 500 child victims,” he said.

To become a mentor, you must be over 21 years old, take a short training course and pass a background check. Guardian Ad Litem asks that you commit 8 to 10 hours a month to spending time with the child you are assigned to.

For more information you can go to their website here, or you can call their office at 850-747-5180.