Our very own Circuit Director Deborah Moore was twice published in recent editions of the Tallahassee Democrat.
Her article entitled "To accomplish more good, Guardian ad Litem needs you" was featured in yesterday's Opinion section and her letter to the editor was published on October 17, 2011.
Both are presented below in case you missed them.To accomplish more good, Guardian ad Litem needs you
By Deborah Moore
Monday, October 31, 2011
I am for the child. Will you be for the child, too?
The child I am for is special. She is the little girl who has already suffered in an abusive home, enters the foster care system and is placed in three or four different homes and schools within just a few months. He is the little boy who witnessed a terrible assault on one of his parents. They are the brother and sister whose mother has just been sentenced to prison and who have been split up and reside in different counties.
Thankfully, most people do not know these children. I do. As I write this, there are hundreds of them in Leon and the adjacent counties. I know them all.
These children are served by the Guardian ad Litem Program, which trains and supports volunteers to speak for and advocate for abused and neglected children. These volunteers are people like you and me who look out for the best interests of the child.
The foster care and child welfare system is full of compassionate lawyers, judges, social workers and foster families, but the intense need can strain the system, making it difficult to protect the rights of each child. What are these rights? To be safe. To be treated with dignity. To be loved. To have friends and live in a home with a real family so the child can thrive. Every child deserves a chance to flourish. A child cannot defend his or her rights, but a Guardian ad Litem volunteer can.
With the help of a Guardian ad Litem volunteer, children have better outcomes. Based on national studies, a child with a volunteer is half as likely to languish in the foster care system, and much more likely to find a safe and permanent home. A child with a volunteer is less likely to return to the child welfare system after going home. Protected and nourished while coming through a period of vulnerability and fear, the child can better achieve his or her potential. These former foster kids may become our future doctors, teachers and leaders.
Every day I see first-hand the transformative impact a Guardian ad Litem volunteer can have on a child. Just the other day, while at the grocery store, I ran into Dot Binger, a Guardian ad Litem volunteer for more than 20 years. With the enthusiasm of a new volunteer assigned to her first case, Dot shared an update about her Guardian ad Litem 17-year-old. After providing two years of advocacy, she saw him recently adopted by a wonderful couple. One person can effect change and make a life-long difference for a child, and Dot has done so. Dot is for a child. She is one of our everyday heroes.
Our goal is that every child in the foster care and child welfare system has a qualified Guardian ad Litem volunteer looking out for his or her best interests.
Currently, with the support of about 310 volunteers, we are serving about 530 children in Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties. To serve 100 percent of the children in our area, we need more volunteers. This is our challenge. It is achievable, but only if you or someone you know agrees to join our ranks and to stand up for the rights of a child.
We know what needs to be done. Doing it is the hard part.
Please visit the Guardian ad Litem Web site at http://www.gal2.org and learn how you can help. Then call me and say, "I am for the child."
To find out more about Guardian ad Litem, go to http://www.gal2.org.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deborah Moore is circuit director for the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program. Contact her at Deborah.Moore@gal.fl.gov
Copyright © 2011, Tallahassee Democrat. All Rights Reserved.Make a difference; help Guardian ad Litem
By Deborah Moore
Monday, October 17, 2011
Opinion/Letters to the Editor
Each year, Make a Difference Day is celebrated nationwide on the fourth Saturday of October. On Oct. 22, millions of Americans will become volunteers and support a program in their community.
In the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program, which includes Leon, Gadsden, Wakulla, Jefferson, Franklin and Liberty counties, there are nearly 520 abused and neglected children whose cases are involved with the courts. Many of them, who are under 10 years of age, have been removed from their homes because of serious neglect.
Children involved with the court and child-welfare system are full of potential but, regrettably, the absence of a capable adult presence and safe and stable home threatens who they are and what they will become.
These children need a tenacious advocate to speak up for them. They need someone who can help protect their most fundamental human rights and overcome their circumstances.
This year, as we observe Make A Difference Day, I hope your readers will see this as the perfect time to support children in our community by becoming a volunteer with the Guardian ad Litem program.
Guardian ad Litem
Copyright © 2011, Tallahassee Democrat. All Rights Reserved.