Griggs continues advocating for children

Jul. 09, 2014 @ 06:49 PM

Troubled youth in District 9 have a new advocate.

Melanie Griggs, a resident of Vance County, became program supervisor on June 2 for the local guardian ad litem program, volunteers appointed by the court and trained to fight for children suffering from abuse and neglect.

Griggs said so far she has trained with volunteers, attended court hearings and become acquainted with legal representatives who handle these kinds of cases.

She said she wants to expand recruitment of volunteers so more children can be helped.

“The goal is really focused on seeing all children succeed and making sure they don’t fall through the system,” Griggs said.

According to district administrator Mary Jo Van Horne, Griggs will be in charge of training and managing volunteers in Vance and Franklin counties.

Guardians ad litem serve about 70 children in Vance County — about 175 altogether in the district, which is Vance, Warren, Granville and Franklin counties.

Griggs said the program has about 100 of the youth advocates right now, and each job is important.

“The beauty of guardian ad litem is that volunteers are only following one or two children, where a teacher would have about 30, and a case worker would have a whole case load,” she said. “I’ve seen children in situations where they needed a guardian ad litem, and in those situations the child really benefited from having another person involved that was willing to really listen to them and help them.”

Griggs has 23 years of experience serving children as a behavioral specialist in the exceptional children department of Vance County Schools and as assistant principal at E.M. Rollins Elementary School for seven years.

She also worked with children with special needs at a former state-ran area mental health program.

“I am really excited about continuing to work for the kids of Vance County,” she said.

Van Horne said they are seeking volunteers as Griggs gets accustomed to her role.

The next training session is scheduled to begin in August. To become a volunteer or for more information, call (919) 497-3010 or email gal.district09@nccourts.org.

Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.