Frequently Asked Questions

A Child Advocate Attorney represents children in abuse and neglect cases. The attorneys and staff at the Chatham County Child Advocate Office have been specially trained in specific strategies proven to expedite permanency. Permanency options include reunification with their family of origin such as parents or grandparents, as well as adoption and permanent guardianship. Children are legally entitled to representation. The attorney-client relationship also carries the same privileges for children as it does for adults, including the right to confidentiality and the responsibility of the attorney to zealously advocate for their client.

A guardian ad litem can be either an attorney, or a specially trained lay person such as a CASA (court appointed special advocate). Guardian Ad Litems are charged, by statute, with advocating for the bests interests of the children they are appointed to represent. Best interests include the child’s right to adequate housing, food, medical attention and education.

The Chatham County Child Advocate Office represents children in dependency matters. While largely appointed as the child’s attorney, the office may also be appointed as guardian ad litem for the children they represent.

If you become concerned that a child is being abused or neglected, please call the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) at 1-855-422-4453 (1-855-GACHILD). If a child is in immediate danger, please contact 911 or local law enforcement first, and then contact DFCS.

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Chatham County Juvenile Court has a panel of attorneys who are appointed to represent parties in dependency cases. If you are interested in joining the panel, please contact Kathy Davis at or Court Administrator Patricia Merritt at

The National Association of Counsel for Children:

Children in dependency matters are automatically appointed counsel and do not need to apply. Services through this office are only available to dependency cases in Chatham County Juvenile Court. The attorneys are unable to represent children in cases in other courts.

The child advocate attorney is provided free-of-charge to the child clients.

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