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 May 2012 archive sorted chronologically with the newest at the top.

Ask a Mentor: Responsibly Leaving a Case

Volunteer Question

I talked to you about a year ago when I got my first case. Now I'm on my second case involving three children. However, I'll have to give up the case as soon as possible. My husband just found out that he is being transferred to another state and therefore, we will be moving. I remember your saying that you have had several cases you picked up from previous guardians and I'm wondering if you have suggestions. I want to leave the case in a responsible way so the children won't be hurt.

Mentor Answer

First of all, thanks for wanting to make it easier for the next volunteer to continue advocacy for the children! In case you have not already done so, notify your volunteer supervisor you are moving. Then arrange to visit the children so that you can personally tell them that you are leaving and can assure them that the new guardian will also care about them and work for their best interest.

Next, work to make sure your case file is in topnotch shape. Check to see if you have included copies of all emails, your child visit reports, your court reports, school progress reports and up-to-date case notes. These case notes will be invaluable as they will inform the new guardian all you have done on this case. If you don't print all of the documents filed with the court which are scanned to you, the volunteer supervisor can print those for the new guardian and add them to the file. I can't overly stress how valuable it will be to the new GAL to have this complete file!

Then if at all possible, schedule a meeting with your volunteer supervisor and program attorney to brief them on the case. You probably have some observations, opinions, expectations and possibly some worries to share that may not be in your file.

We all appreciate the work you have done to move these children along the road to permanency and for all your service as a guardian ad litem. I hope you will volunteer again after you get moved and settled. Call me if you have other questions and best wishes to you and your family in your new home!

In Print: The Florida Bar News

Logo --- The Florida Bar

The May 2012 edition of the Florida Bar News features an article about the three pieces of good news recently enjoyed by the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program and its executive director, Alan Abramowitz.

The article is presented below in case you missed it. Thank you to the Florida Bar for featuring our program with their membership!

A triple treat of good news for the GALs
By Jan Pudlow

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Florida Bar News

Alan Abramowitz, executive director of the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program, is one happy man for three big reasons.

First, Gov. Rick Scott approved the GAL's entire $32 million budget for fiscal year 2012-13, with a 6 percent increase of $1.8 million over last year's budget.

Secondly, the governor signed the law to allow GAL volunteers to transport children, viewed primarily as a safety issue so foster children may have private time with their GALs, which enhances rapport and communication.

And thirdly, the statewide GAL program won the 2012 Davis Productivity Eagle Award for "streamlining efficiencies to focus on commitment to children," and there will be an awards ceremony June 1 in Tallahassee.

Abramowitz said the news has made him "elated," and he used a lot of exclamation points in his memos to his staff when he told them the good news.

On the budget, Abramowitz wrote to his staff and volunteers on April 17: "I received a phone call earlier today from the Governor's Office letting me know that our entire budget, including the additional $1.8 million nonrecurring contract dollars, will be signed into law. The governor has been very supportive throughout this legislative session and continues to support our program. His office wanted me to let you know he supports the great work you do for children every day. I also want to thank each and every one of you for your commitment to give every child a voice!"

Abramowitz, who also chairs the Bar's Legal Needs of Children Committee, explained to the News: "The $1.8 million will primarily be used to recruit additional volunteers so more children can have representation and a volunteer child advocate. Just prior to session, we changed our request from requesting additional staff positions to contract dollars. We are extremely happy for the additional children that will have an advocate."

The goal is to expand representation to children in foster care from about 65 percent to 75 percent, he said, even though, by law, every foster child is supposed to have a GAL.

"We will be reaching out to the private sector to look for matching dollars for the $1.8 million. We are going to be reaching out to the faith community for recruiting services and look for matching dollars to show the Legislature that we maximized the dollars through our public-private partnerships," Abramowitz said.

"Also, we are looking to track increased representation with the dollars so at next session we can argue for making the dollars reoccurring."

In July, Abramowitz said he will be presenting the "Balanced Scorecard" to the Children's Cabinet, which charts outcomes by rating circuits based on specific issues the children brought up in "A Voice Heard." (see story in April 1 News.)

"The goal is to have accountability in expanding our volunteer base and meeting the children's needs," Abramowitz said. "The Department of Children and Families is working with us to collect data on performance outcomes we can influence. The children have set the path for our strategic plan."

Also, Gov. Scott signed the law to allow volunteers to transport children (SB 1960). (see story in April 1 News.)

"We are working with the Department of Highway Safety to get the driving records at no cost. We are developing guidelines for approval and standards," Abramowitz said.

The Eagle Award, from Prudential-Davis Productivity Awards and Florida TaxWatch, was awarded to the GAL program for being a state program that "costs the least and benefits the most."

"By utilizing over 16,000 volunteers over the past five years, committed staff working to support child advocacy, engaging nonprofits committed to supporting the program and the children, utilizing pro bono attorneys around the state, and in particular through the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, has saved the state millions of dollars," according to the nomination letter.

"We have established a private/public partnership securing money with our local nonprofits; established an online portal for volunteers resulting in cost savings; and established an online training for programs and pro bono attorneys in free continuing legal education credits (CLEs)."

"Of the 533 nominations, there were only 16 nominations that received the prestigious Eagle Award," Abramowitz wrote to his staff and volunteers. "And the Guardian ad Litem Program is one of them!"

Copyright © 2012, The Florida Bar. All Rights Reserved.

New Radio Spots Hit the Airwaves to Raise Awareness

Logo: Cumulus

Child Advocates II partners up with Cumulus Media to promote our mission, raise awareness and recruit volunteers.

In an ongoing effort to raise awareness of the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program and our important mission, new radio advertisements have been created for broadcast in the Big Bend region.

Child Advocates II, Inc., our 501(c)(3) not-for-profit volunteer support organization, in partnership with Cumulus Media of Tallahassee are building a media marketing strategy in support of the I Am for the Child initiative and the Campaign for 10,000 Voices, as well as reaching out to businesses in the community.

The ultimate goal of I Am for the Child and the Campaign for 10,000 Voices is to recruit and train enough child advocate volunteers so that every abused, abandoned and neglected child can benefit from the powerful voice of a guardian ad litem.

Cumulus Media currently operates five radio stations in our market.

Two spots have been created so far; the first featuring Circuit Director Deborah Moore and the second featuring CAII Board President Brian Sealey.

You can listen to the radio spots on YouTube below or download an MP3 of each.

New Event: Volunteer Recruitment Coffee

We regularly host a variety of events to provide community outreach, raise awareness of our program, recruit new volunteers, fund raise and furnish training to our volunteer guardians ad litem. The following event has been recently added to our calendar.

Volunteer Recruitment Coffee
Have your questions answered, talk to current volunteers and learn about our program at our monthly Volunteer Recruitment Coffee. Members of our Volunteer Recruitment Committee will be on hand to discuss the rewards of becoming a guardian ad litem and guide you through the application process.

Event Update: GAL Appreciation Day 2012

Guardian ad Litem Appreciation Day is right around the corner! This annual event provides an opportunity for the local guardian ad litem community to get together, socialize, have fun and recognize the great work of our volunteers, community supporters and staff.

We are pleased to announce that our special guest speakers this year are the Honorable Judge Irene Sullivan and Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office Executive Director Alan Abramowitz.

Irene Sullivan Alan Abramowitz

Please RSVP by this Friday, May 4, 2012.

To learn more, see the schedule of events and RSVP, visit the updated event flyer.

Join us for a fun filled afternoon for our guardian ad litem volunteers, families and community supporters. Let's celebrate and honor the extraordinary people who make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children.