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

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 was recently added to our calendar.

Volunteer Recruitment Coffee
Talk with current volunteers, have your questions answered and learn all about our program at our monthly community outreach day. Members of our Volunteer Recruitment Committee will be on hand to discuss the rewards of becoming a guardian ad litem, explain the ways you can contribute and help you start the application process. View the event flyer below for more details.

New Event: FDLRS Educational Surrogate Training

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.

FDLRS Educational Surrogate Training
Florida Diagnostic and Learning Resources System (FDLRS) is holding an educational surrogate training session. Successful completion of the training and certification as an educational surrogate will qualify guardians ad litem to provide additional advocacy to children receiving exceptional student education (ESE) services and who have individualized education programs (IEP) at school.

Participants will be awarded two (2) hours of in-service continuing education credit. View the event flyer below for more details and to RSVP for one of the sessions.

New Event: Lunch & Learn

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 was recently added to our calendar.

Lunch & Learn
All guardian ad litem volunteers are invited to bring your lunch to our office, learn about a specific topic and earn one hour of continuing education credit. View the event flyer below for more details and to RSVP.

Community Supporters Added, Website Updates

Original Photo Credit: lu.scene --- look at /me/
Photo: lu.scene

The Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program and Child Advocates II (CAII) work to build partnerships with individuals, businesses and organizations in the community.

Without the assistance provided by our CAII Partners CAII Partner and community supporters, ensuring children have a court-appointed volunteer guardian ad litem, legal assistance and financial resources would be extremely difficult.

The following partners and supporters were recently added to Community Supporters.

In addition, the partners and supporters categories were revised for additional clarity.

  • CAII Partners — category added
  • Restaurants — category removed; contents relocated to other categories

Finally, the home page information boxes have been updated for greater visibility and usefulness.

  • Alerts and Reminders — keeps you informed on the latest news and deadlines
  • CAII Partners and Community Supporters — displays two random partners/supporters

We thank these and all of our partners and supporters for their generous contributions!

Ask a Mentor: Allowances and School Supplies

Volunteer Question

My second case involves a 15-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy, but they are in separate placements. A grandmother has the little boy, but "Patty" is in foster care. My concern right now is with Patty.

When I visited her this afternoon she told me that she still does not receive her allowance. After I asked her if she knew why, she told me that all she knows is that the foster parents tell her that she does not do her chores properly.

School starts in about a week and Patty said that she needs items which she planned to get with her allowance. I'm not sure whether to talk with the caregivers about this or not.

Mentor Answer

The dependency case manager (DCM) monitors the caregivers' general responsibilities as well as areas covered in the normalcy plan for the teenager. I would talk with the DCM—or send an email with copy to your volunteer supervisor (VS)—to see what the DCM knows about this situation.

There may be two things involved which you will want to check on: (1) is the allowance being withheld as punishment, which is frowned on, and (2) are the expectations for uses of the allowance appropriate. Check also to find out if Patty received the check that is given to foster children in August to buy new school clothes.

If she has some legitimate needs which are not appropriately covered by her allowance or the clothing allotment, talk to your VS to see if the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program's nonprofit, Child Advocates II (CAII), can provide some help.

Patty may misunderstand what is going on, or she could have a justifiable concern that the DCM needs to work on with the foster parent. If issues like this remain unresolved, sometimes they lead to further problems that in turn can disrupt a placement.

With school just starting, stability in placement is very important. So acting on your concern is a good step in your advocacy for Patty.

New Event: 2012 Holiday Wish List Drive

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 was recently added to our calendar.

Holiday Wish List Drive
Every year, Child Advocates II works with local businesses, organizations and individuals throughout the Big Bend region to ensure that each and every one of the children represented by our program in need of gifts this holiday season receives them. View the event flyer below for more details and to learn how to participate by sponsoring a child or family.

New Event: Fundraising Golf Tournament at SouthWood Golf Club

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 was recently added to our calendar.

Fundraising Golf Tournament
The annual Child Advocates II, Inc. golf tournament is a fun and rewarding way to help children in the community by supporting our fundraising efforts. View the event flyer below for more details and to learn how to participate.

'411 Teen' Guardian ad Litem Episode on WFSU 88.9 FM

Logo: WFSU 411 Teen

On Sunday, August 19, 2012, the WFSU 89.9 FM "411 Teen" radio program discussed the guardian ad litem program, its impact on youth and how to become a volunteer child advocate.

Joining host Dr. Elizabeth "Liz" Holifield on the program were Circuit Director Deborah Moore, Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program Executive Director Alan Abramowitz and C.J., a youth who recently aged out of foster care.

The entire fifty-three minute episode is available online. You can visit the episode page or download the MP3 to listen.

Congratulations from Representative Dennis Baxley

Representative Dennis K. Baxley

On Tuesday, September 11, 2012, Florida Guardian ad Litem Program Executive Director Alan Abramowitz shared a note of congratulations from program supporter and member of the Florida House of Representatives, Dennis K. Baxley.

Representative Baxley's message follows the statewide program's honor of receiving an Angels in Adoption award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI).

You can read Representative Baxley's note below.

From Representative Dennis K. Baxley

Congratulations to all involved in Florida's Award winning efforts for children in our state as you receive the national spotlight on the difference you are having on permanency outcomes.

Many of you know the Baxley family adoptions that changed our lives were heavily influenced by the work of our Guardian ad Litem Volunteer. Our thank you and salute are up close and personal from the heart.

Onward and upward,

Dennis Baxley

Statewide Program Wins Angels in Adoption Award, Part 2

As we reported last month, the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program was selected as an honoree of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute's (CCAI) Angels in Adoption award.

Subsequent to that initial announcement on Thursday, August 9, 2012, Executive Director Alan Abramowitz followed up with a press release containing more details and messages of congratulation.

In addition, Abramowitz also shared a photograph of the award received in Washington, D.C. at the September 12, 2012 gala for award recipients.

You can read the complete text of the press release and see the award photograph below.

Photograph: Angels in Adoption Award

Photograph of Angels in Adoption award presented to the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program in Washington, D.C. at the September 12, 2012 awards gala

"Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute's (CCAI) Angels in Adoption recognition awarded to the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program in Washington, D.C. at the September 12, 2012 awards gala."

Glenn and Sherri Eckhardt, volunteers of the year, accepted the award on behalf of the program's volunteers while Mercedes Scopetta accepted on behalf of the staff.

Press Release — Monday, August 27, 2012

FLORIDA'S GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROGRAM HONORED
WITH NATIONAL ANGELS IN ADOPTION AWARD

IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Alan F. Abramowitz, Esq. Executive Director
Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office
850.241.3232 (cell) or 850.922.7213 (o)

On behalf of our community volunteers and professional staff colleagues, we are pleased to announce that the Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program (GAL Program) is a recipient of an Angels in Adoption Award. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) Angels in Adoption honors more than 150 Angels nationwide for excellence in finding forever families for children in the foster care system.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio selected the Florida GAL Program for this prestigious award. The GAL Program will be recognized in Washington, D.C, on Wednesday, September 12th at an awards GALA. Executive Director, Alan Abramowitz, will be accompanied by the GAL Program's Volunteer of the Year: Glenn and Sherri Eckhardt, and Chief Legal Counsel: Mercedes Scopetta. This year's National Angels in Adoption™ awardees are actress Katherine Heigl, singer/songwriter Josh Kelley, and PEOPLE Magazine.

The GAL Program has received much support from the Governor of the State of Florida and state of Florida dignitaries. Please see their quotes below.

  • "Congratulations to Florida's Guardian ad Litem volunteers and staff for this recognition of your continued commitment to Florida's children. Guardians ad Litem provide care and attention essential to the safety, security and success of our state's children," Governor Rick Scott said. "Dedicated Floridians like these make a better life possible for children in need of a permanent and loving home."
     
  • "Congratulations to the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program for receiving the Angels in Adoption award! Thank you for your dedication to ensuring that Florida's abused and neglected children can transition to a safe, loving and permanent family. This national recognition is truly well deserved," stated Senator Don Gaetz.
     
  • "I am pleased to see the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program's tireless work on behalf of Florida's abused and neglected children has paid off with well-deserved national accolades," said Speaker-designate Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel). "The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program represents the best of Florida – volunteers, public partnerships and government agencies working together to provide a safe and loving environment for Florida's abused and neglected children. Thank you for being a friend, a mentor, and a voice for Florida's abused and neglected children."
     
  • "The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program's volunteers reach out and help children in need all over the state every day," said DCF Secretary David Wilkins. "These volunteer share our strong commitment and passion to help improve the lives of Florida's children and families. Our partnership with Guardians ad Litem help give a voice to our children in care and help ensure their safety, well-being and success."
     
  • "The Florida Chamber recognizes the many contributions Florida's Guardian ad Litem 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," said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. "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."

The Florida GAL Program is extremely grateful to be recognized nationally for its accomplishments in facilitating permanent forever homes for children in our state's foster care system. We appreciate Senator Rubio for selecting the Florida GAL Program for such a prestigious award. GAL Executive Director Alan Abramowitz stated, "I want to thank the volunteers and staff, but also our partners in fighting for children, including the foster parents, relatives, the Department of Children and Families, Judges and providers ensuring children don't languish in foster care."

Florida's Guardian ad Litem Program is a partnership of community volunteer child advocates and professional staff who join together to provide a powerful voice on behalf of Florida's abused and neglected children. Since its inception over 30 years ago, the GAL Program has represented the best interests of over 125,000 children in Florida's dependency court and assisted in the adoption process for many of these children. The GAL Program is instrumental in Florida's adoption process as the Guardian ad Litem is the sole voice for the child throughout the court process.

The GAL Program has participated in 2,221 adoptions this past fiscal year 2011/2012. Florida's GAL volunteers advocate for the child at each stage of a dependency proceeding to help the child achieve permanency. During the initial stages of the case, the GAL is often the person who seeks out family members or other individuals with a connection to the child for the potential adoptive placement.

Once a child is placed and the goal of the case becomes adoption, the GAL helps the potential adoptive family understand the adoption process and the benefits of adoption such as the availability of a subsidy and tax credit.

The GAL volunteer works with stakeholders in the dependency system to ensure that home studies are completed in a timely manner and that all legal requirements are met. Essentially, the adoption process of children from Florida's foster care system is more efficient and successful because of Florida's Guardian ad Litem Program.

For more information about the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program, please visit www.GuardianadLitem.org or call 1-866-341-1425.

For more information about Angels in Adoption, please visit www.angelsinadoption.org.