Attorney Bill Blancato ensures that children’s voices are heard when he volunteers as a guardian ad litem (GAL) at the Children’s Law Center of Central North Carolina (CLC).

“Bill is dependable, patient, and insightful,” says Iris Sunshine, executive director of the CLC. “Together, we advocate for children traumatized by the unraveling of their family.”

A partner in Doughton Blancato, PLLC, Blancato, 58, believes it’s important for the court to have an unbiased opinion about what is best for a child when parents cannot agree on custody arrangements.

“A child’s best interest does not always coincide with what a parent says,” he explains. “A GAL can help the child to be placed in the most nurturing environment. As a neutral [observer], a GAL may also be able to talk with a parent about modifying behavior in a way that will create a better environment for a child.

“If someone is concerned about a child’s safety, and they believe talking to the parent or someone close to the parent won’t help, they should call Social Services,” he adds.

A New York City native, Blancato is a graduate of the Duke University School of Law. His commitment to giving back began in the late 1980s when he helped start a lawyers and arts committee for the young lawyers division of the N.C. Bar Association.

In addition to CLC, Blancato volunteers with the Guardian ad Litem Services Division of the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts and represents guardian ad litems in the N.C. Court of Appeals. He also mentors local high-school seniors through the W-S Chamber of Commerce’s Senior Academy program. He’s a group leader and regional coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby and also a member of Planned Parenthood’s Forsyth Community Council. He’s volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and is treasurer for Sustainable+Ardmore. And he was recently appointed to the board of Climate Times, an online newspaper dealing with global warming-related issues.

Later this year, Blancato will be honored with one of the CLC’s three pro bono awards. Sunshine says that pro bono attorneys and other volunteers enable the CLC to serve more children in the area.

“Bill has been a dedicated advocate for children whose voices would otherwise not have been heard in the courtroom,” she says. “When asked to represent the best interests of a child in court, he’s never hesitated to accept a case.”

For more info on volunteering, donating, or enlisting the help of CLC, go to www.childrenslawcenternc.org.

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