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The Official Web Site of the State of South Carolina

Submit complaints regarding services provided to children by state agencies (do not use this link to report allegations of child abuse or neglect).

Report all cases of abuse or neglect directly to DSS by calling 1-888-CARE4US.

Cass Elias McCarter Guardian ad Litem

The Program and Volunteers

The Cass Elias McCarter Guardian ad Litem program, a division of the S.C. Department of Children's Advocacy, recruits, trains and supervises volunteers known as Guardians ad Litem (GALs) who advocate for abused/neglected children in South Carolina. The division is led by Division Director LaDara Josey Depugh. 

Volunteers are caring individuals with a passion for service from a wide range of backgrounds who lend their voices to speak up for the state’s most vulnerable children and commit their time to help ensure each child they serve has a promising future. GAL volunteers are people like you. Some volunteers work full time, some are retired, some are students, some are teachers, some are grandparents; but they are all extraordinary people who want to make the voices of abused and neglected children heard. 

GAL volunteers get to know the child and everyone involved in the child’s life, including family, teachers, doctors, social workers and others. They gather information about the child and what the child needs. Their recommendations to the court help the judge make an informed decision about a child’s future. GAL volunteers provide a stable presence in a child’s life, remaining on each case until the child finds a safe, permanent home.

Program History 

In 1984, a young woman from Columbia, South Carolina, worked tirelessly in establishing the first state funded volunteer program for child advocacy. Cass Elias McCarter had a vision of protecting South Carolina’s children. Through perseverance and hard work, she secured a grant to start a volunteer Guardian ad Litem program. With the help of one assistant, she began to transform her vision into a volunteer force that would eventually blanket the state. Read more here.

Program Outcomes

The benefits that GALs provide have been well documented.  A 2006 audit conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General demonstrates that once a volunteer is assigned, approximately:
• 95% of children do not languish in long-term foster care.
• 90% of children never re-enter the child welfare system.

Become a Volunteer and More Information

For details on how you can become a volunteer and for more information, visit the Guardian ad Litem program website today.

Advocacy. Accountability. Service.

S.C. Department of Children's Advocacy 

1205 Pendleton Street, Suite 471A

Columbia, SC 29201

Office: 803-734-3176

Toll Free Complaint Line: 1-800-206-1957