The hub of information for the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program, our blog contains posts with announcements, news and events, articles, periodicals and additions or updates to our website.

This page contains published posts from the March 2012 archive sorted chronologically with the newest at the top.

Ask a Mentor: Continuing Relationships

Volunteer Question

I am almost finished with my first case. The child "Jessie" is now twelve years old and is placed with her grandmother who has permanent guardianship. I've had the case for almost a year and a half and have spent a lot of time with Jessie. We have a really good relationship. I'm not sure whether it is appropriate to continue the relationship after the case is officially over—I don't believe it would matter to her grandmother one way or the other. I have not talked to Jessie about it, nor have I had a final case visit. I've been thinking about what comes after the case ends.

Mentor Answer

There's no cut and dried answer to this. I have taken the position of leaving it up to the children. When I make my final official case visit, I make it clear that the court no longer needs me to keep visiting and checking to make sure things are going well. Then I tell the children that I will always be their friend and that they can call me. I've had a variety of experiences.

The girl in my first case stayed in touch for about ten years. She then moved to another state and I heard no more. The girl in my second case still stays in touch—it has been over seventeen years. Some I've never heard from. Just last week, however, a boy who was three years old when I took the case and is now eighteen called me to ask for help on an issue. Some guardians assigned to older youth stay involved after the case ends so that they can serve as mentor for youth striving to transition into adulthood on their own. Occasionally it is the parent or the permanent guardian who will stay in touch or will call about something. This means they too learned to trust you and respect the help you can give.

If a guardian prefers not to continue a relationship with children at the end of a case, there are ways to say a caring goodbye that effectively concludes it. Furthermore, if children have a really good support network of family and friends—grandparents who have been involved or other relatives, for example—then they are less likely to need a continuing relationship. They move on with their lives. I let it be their decision, making sure they understand that I will continue to be their friend and that they can call me.

In Print: Mark Wilson and Alan Abramowitz

On Sunday, March 4, 2012, the Tallahassee Democrat published an editorial written by Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office Executive Director Alan Abramowitz and Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson.

It discusses the Florida Chamber of Commerce's Six Pillars for Securing Florida's Future and highlights the Chamber's relationship with the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program.

The editorial is presented below in case you missed it.

When economic times are bad, children hurt
By Mark Wilson and Alan Abramowitz

Sunday, March 4, 2012
Tallahassee Democrat
Opinion/My Word


The Florida Chamber of Commerce and its six pillars for securing Florida's future serve as a framework for local, regional and state strategic planning.

Two pillars in particular, Quality of Life and Civic and Government Systems, serve as an organizing force that helps define an important relationship between the Florida Guardian ad Litem program's public-private partnership and the Florida Chamber.

The Quality of Life pillar recognizes that Florida's future depends on preserving a wide range of integrated elements that express the robustness of our culture and the positive perceptions of those things that make us healthy, safe, comfortable, secure and involved. While there is no doubt that Florida's economy is beginning to move in the right direction, the fact remains that many of Florida's families are struggling. When families struggle, children suffer. And that often leads to child abuse and neglect.

A Bureau of Labor Statistics study shows that for every 1-percent increase in unemployment there is a concomitant increase in confirmed child maltreatment reports one year later. The inability to pay rent, the frustration of not finding a job and the incapacity to pay for mental health treatment often lead to increased child neglect and abuse.

Guardian ad Litem program volunteers and staff serve to be the "best interest" voice for neglected or abused children. Thanks to GAL volunteers, children are less likely to re-enter foster care and more likely to be adopted, have more services provided to them and do better in school.

While government cannot successfully raise children, it can help foster public-private partnerships that provide parents and families the support to meet their children's needs. In part, that theory is at the core of the Florida Chamber's Civic and Government Systems pillar. It recognizes that civic and government structures play essential roles in delivering services, organizing markets and providing opportunities for the public to become engaged.

Florida's diverse nonprofit organizations help meet the needs of communities and provide essential services to family's every day in Florida. In fact, in 2009, approximately 3.3 million Florida volunteers contributed more than 500 million hours of service to local organizations — a multibillion-dollar savings to taxpayers.

The Florida Chamber recognizes the many contributions Florida's GAL program plays in our state's overall quality of life and in Florida's ability to link top-quality public programs with private sector contributions. Their success stories demonstrate that they are an indispensable intermediary between children and the court and between children and the Department of Children and Families.

To Florida GAL volunteers and Florida's business community — thank you for giving your time, talents and treasures to help improve the quality of life for children and families statewide.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Mark Wilson is president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at
mwilson@flchamber.com

Alan Abramowitz is executive director of the Florida Guardian ad Litem program. Contact him at
alan.abramowitz@gal.fl.gov

LEARN MORE
For more information about the Florida Chamber of Commerce go www.flchamber.com. For more information about Guardian ad Litem go to www.GuardianadLitem.org.

Copyright © 2012, Tallahassee Democrat. All Rights Reserved.