In 1977, Judge David Soukup, presiding judge of King Co. Superior Court in Seattle, started a volunteer Guardian ad Litem program to make sure he would know all he could about the long-term welfare needs of each child that came through his court room. During that first year, the King County program provided 110 trained volunteers for 498 children in 376 dependency cases. Following the success of this model, programs across the state and across the nation began to crop up.
In 1988, a Washington State program was formed joining local county programs and stakeholders to carry out statewide training, legislative advocacy, data collection, and awareness statewide about the issues affecting abused and neglected children in Washington State. The Whatcom County program was established in 2008 and continues to grow each year, both by number of volunteers and by number of children it successfully advocates for. Today over 85,000 Volunteer GAL's give over 260,000 children a chance to have their voice heard in courts across the United States.