On November 27, 2011, the Tallahassee Democrat published an editorial piece in support of the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program.
In addition to describing our important mission, the article encourages people to help us meet our current volunteer recruitment goals and/or provide assistance to Child Advocates II, Inc., our non-profit support organization.
The editorial is presented below in case you missed it. Thank you to the Tallahassee Democrat!Our Opinion: Worthwhile commitment
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Sometimes reports about the plight of children in our communities are so overwhelming that we get lost searching for answers, leading to ineffectiveness. Those who take the extra step by getting involved truly deserve a salute from the rest of us.
For instance, 10 children now have families to call their own following an adoption ceremony last week at the Leon County Courthouse in honor of National Adoption Month. It was hosted by the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Children's Home Society. Similar programs are being held throughout the state this month, when a couple hundred children will celebrate going home with families of their own.
But according to DCF, 19,957 children are in foster care living with families or group homes. That indicates the number of children in need in our state.
Closer to home, there is an important opportunity for volunteers to represent children who need an advocate in their corner through the Second Judicial Circuit's Guardian ad Litem program. The agency is looking for at least 31 volunteers to step up to assist children living in Leon and five other surrounding counties.
In communities throughout Florida, volunteers with Guardian ad Litem work tirelessly behind the scenes to represent youth without voices. They bond with the child to whom they're assigned, visit the child's home, establish a relationship with teachers and help steer the child to community services that are available to meet that child's needs.
It's been said that a child working with a program volunteer is not likely to languish in the foster-care system, is more likely to find a safe home and is less likely to have to return to the child welfare system.
Because of its name, many may have the misconception that one must be an attorney or well-versed in family law to serve as a guardian ad litem. That is not the case. What the department needs are compassionate adults who are willing to commit a year to being the voice and advocate for a child in our community whose circumstances have come to the attention of the courts.
A critical need is to add more men to the ranks of volunteers, especially black and Hispanic men.
"Most of our guardians are not attorneys," said Deborah Moore, director of the program in this judicial district. "They come to this because they love children. We are happy to have that (legal) expertise, but a concern and passion for children is what we look for."
The 31 additional volunteers would go a long way toward helping address the needs of the 508 children in the system locally. Child Advocates II, a nonprofit organization, also is associated with the program. It is primarily charged with raising money that goes toward meeting the needs of the children represented, from clothing to money for school trips. It also is in need of volunteers.
In this season of giving, there are few gifts that match the gift of stepping up to represent the needs of a child.
YOU CAN HELP
For more information on how to become a Guardian ad Litem volunteer, go to www.gal2.org.
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