Child Defend, Helping the Youngest Victims

(WHNT) – Children in Alabama who face abuse and neglect, will have better help on their side by those who defend them.
In the state of Alabama, in the court system, an attorney that represents a child is called a guardian ad-litem or G-A-L.
“The GAL is appointed to the child when there’s been an allegation of abuse or neglect. that runs the gamut, it could be severe assault.” Jimmy Sandlin of Child Defend explains, he knows, he has seen the worst that children face in our state.  As the presiding judge over family court in Lauderdale County from 2005-2011, he was the only one that heard the cases of children.

“On one hand you have these parents that are separated from their children, on the other hand you have these very parents who are accused of abusing the children in their very home.  So when I left the bench that was one of my goals in trying to give back.” Sandlin said.
He is spearheading Alabama Child Defend their mission is to protect children involved in cases of abuse or neglect by enhancing the expertise of the Judges and Attorneys who serve them.
“Children deserve the very best representation of anyone in our court system because #1 they`re the victim, they didn`t do anything on their own to get them there, #2 they are the most vulnerable citizens we have.” Sandlin explained.
Child defend will work to recruit and train attorneys that can fight for their client…a child.. in the courtroom.

Sandlin explains his motivation to help the children. “As a judge you lay awake at night wondering did I make the right decision, and you never know.  There`s voices on both sides telling you your wrong, and that`s why it`s our goal to make sure that judge who hears the case has as much information as possible.”

Child Defend has received grants to get their efforts up and going and they are working through Athens State.  Friday, they will get a big boost in their efforts from the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention.

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