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

Letter to Volunteers, New Code of Conduct

Image of Chris Gornik's letter

On Friday, November 30, 2012, Volunteer Trainer Chris Gornik sent a letter to all volunteers and staff regarding recertification and a new code of conduct form for the 2013–2014 fiscal year.

All volunteers are required to complete a total of twelve (12) hours in-service continuing education and sign the Guardian ad Litem Code of Conduct each fiscal year to maintain certification. This fiscal year's deadline is June 30, 2013.

There are several ways to report your continuing education hours.

  • Online
    Submit your hours quickly and easily from our website.
     
  • Downloadable Form
    Complete, print and sign this form to send by mail, fax or email.

If you use the downloadable form to report your hours, send it to us in one of the following ways.

  • Mail to 1920 Thomasville Road, Suite 208, Tallahassee, Florida 32303-5217
  • Fax to (850) 606-1201
  • Scan and Email to christine.gornik@gal.fl.gov

There is no online version of the code of conduct. Download, print and sign the document and then send it to us by mail, fax or email as detailed above. Volunteers may submit their signed code of conduct with or at the same time as the completed continuing education form.

All hours and documentation must be submitted by June 30, 2013. Volunteers will then be mailed new certification cards with an expiration date of June 30, 2014.

If you have any questions about this process, please email christine.gornik@gal.fl.gov or call (850) 606-1228.

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

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
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 Events: CAII Gift Wrap Party, Alternative Christmas Markets

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 events have been recently added to our calendar.

Alternative Christmas Markets
Child Advocates II, Inc. (CAII) is once again participating at two local alternative Christmas markets where charities and not-for-profit organizations are on hand to educate the public and accept donations in the name of a family member, friend or colleague. Customized cards describing the goods and services made possible by the donation are also available, as well as select gift items.

CAII Gift Wrapping Party at Books-A-Million
After you buy from a selection of great books, magazines, music and movies, proceed to our table to have one of our friendly volunteers gift wrap your purchases. Donations accepted for gift wrapping benefit local children in need and our program.

Event Update: 2012 Holiday Wish List Drive

Original Photo Credit: Snugg LePup --- Day 345: Wrapped Up - stuffed animal in a gift box with holiday lights behind

Update: read the new "Event Update: 2012 Holiday Wish List Drive" blog post for the December 5, 2012 status report.

Additional sponsors needed to provide local children with holiday gifts.

On Saturday, November 17, 2012, Child Advocates II, Inc. (CAII) Board Secretary Stacey Burns provided board members and circuit staff with an update on the 2012 Holiday Wish List Drive.

Every year, CAII 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—many of whom are abandoned, abused or neglected—receive gifts this holiday season.

Now that we are past the Tuesday, November 13, 2012 wish list submission deadline and the Friday, December 7, 2012 gift drop off deadline quickly approaches, CAII is re-doubling its efforts to make this year's drive a successful one.

The following are highlights from Burns' Holiday Wish List Drive update.

  • Wish lists received for 287 children — 148 families
  • Only 148 of the 287 children have been sponsored — that is 51.6%
  • Of the 139 children without sponsors, 50 have requested gift cards — an over $3,500 expense
  • We anticipate more lists coming in, increasing the number of children requiring sponsorship
     
  • Sponsorships and funds are being donated, however much more is needed to meet the goal
  • Five of the children will soon be of age and moving out on their own
  • CAII is also trying to obtain baby supplies for three expectant teenage mothers
  • A supporting bowling event is slated for early December; the exact date to be determined

Volunteers and potential sponsors who wish to help out with this year's drive are encouraged to contact CAII immediately. Volunteers are available to answer your questions and organize your donation. We will need to know the number of children you wish to sponsor as well as any preference on age or gender.

Additional information and forms are available on the 2012 Holiday Wish List Drive event flyer.

Remember, time is running out quickly. If we all work together, we will ensure that every child's holiday season is bright and filled with joy and happiness.

Thank you for your support!

UPDATE 2012-11-18: Corrected incorrect figure, fixed editing error and added clarifying bullet
UPDATE 2012-11-19: Added lead, made minor formatting changes
UPDATE 2012-12-08: Added link to new update blog post

CAII Golf Tournament 2012 Event Report

On Friday, November 2, 2012, Child Advocates II, Inc. (CAII) and the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program hosted Golfing for GAL, the fourth annual CAII Golf Tournament, at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida.

The CAII golf tournament is a fun and rewarding way for supporters to help abused and neglected children in the local community.

The donations collected from players and sponsors are used to provide for children's basic needs, to help fund special programs like the annual Holiday Wish List Drive and to support our program.

See the complete CAII Golf Tournament 2012 photograph set on Flickr.
Click on the pictures embedded in this article to see them larger.

For program staff and CAII board members working the event, the morning started in the early light of dawn and 40 degree temperatures.

Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- GAL program sign and arriving players before the start of the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012. Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- Raffle selection table and Leon County Sheriff's Office sponsorship sign before the start of the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012.

Several tables were set up—one for players and teams to register and make donations; one with raffle prizes represented by bowls for players to place their tickets; and one with information about our program and CASA Kids Studio jewelry for sale.

Author's note: please email info@galf2.org if you are interested in buying our jewelry pieces.

Players started to arrive around sunrise, signing in at the registration table and making their raffle selections before returning to the warmth of the clubhouse for hot coffee and fresh doughnuts. Many then made their way to the practice areas to warm up and await the shotgun start.

Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- Players make their selections at the raffle table manned by Stacey Burns before the start of the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012. Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- Players walk past a large tree to the practice area before the start of the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012.

A Beautiful Day for Golfing
Before the master of ceremonies was introduced, Head Golf Professional Mike Durst, PGA of SouthWood Golf Club welcomed our players to the course and announced the tournament's rules.

Formally kicking things off as master of ceremonies, Representative Alan Williams spoke to everyone present about the importance of guardians ad litem and thanked the players and sponsors for their support of the community.

Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- Child Advocates II board president Brian Sealey and board member Catherine Howard before the start of the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012. Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- Representative Alan Williams giving opening remarks to the players before the start of the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012.

After concluding his opening remarks, Representative Williams and the other players boarded their assigned golf carts and one by one set off to their respective starting tees.

Established in 2002, the SouthWood Golf Club features a 7,172-yard, 18 hole course designed by professional golfer and 1992 PGA Masters Tournament winner Fred Couples and his longtime business partner, architect Gene Bates.

Touted as an "enjoyable and challenging golf experience for players of all levels," the course is also quite scenic with rolling hills, southern live oak trees draped in Spanish moss and golf cart paths meandering by homes and undeveloped woodlands alike.

Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- A player teeing off during the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012. Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- Representative Alan Williams teeing off at the hole sponsored by Starbucks during the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012.

Making their way through the different holes—each of which is fittingly named, including The Marshes, Oak Haven, Deer Run, Mossy Hill and Back Porch—the teams and players took the next four hours or so to complete the course.

Although very cool in the early morning, the temperature would continually rise through the mid 70s under mostly clear and sunny skies; the perfect day to be outdoors. Everyone appeared to genuinely enjoy themselves and the company of their teammates, regardless of the scores.

Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- A team of players during the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012. Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- A team of players at the hole sponsored by Qualtest during the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012.

Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- A team of players during the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012. Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- A team of players at the hole sponsored by Qualtest during the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012.

Rewarded for the Fruits of Their Labor
In the early afternoon, players started to finish their games and return to the clubhouse. After delivering their scorecards to Mike Durst for final tallying, all players were invited inside to the SouthWood Golf Club Restaurant where the tournament lunch was being served.

The restaurant's barbeque luncheon buffet consisted of pulled pork, chicken, baked beans, cole slaw, pickles, bread, brownies, iced tea and water. The restaurant's friendly waitstaff were also on hand to assist diners and bus tables.

Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- Players returning to the clubhouse and checking their scores during the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012. Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- Players enjoying the luncheon and awards ceremony during the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012.

Finally, it was time for the awards ceremony and CAII Board President Brian Sealey took to the stage to officiate. In his opening remarks, Sealey thanked all of the teams, players and sponsors for their participation and briefly explained how CAII uses the funds that they raise.

Circuit Director Deborah Moore then joined Sealey and added her thanks. Moore specifically recognized her staff and the CAII board members who volunteered their time to recruit players and sponsors, manage logistics, organize and work the tournament.

Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- Circuit Director Deborah Moore and Child Advocates II board president Brian Sealey conduct the awards ceremony during the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012. Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- Child Advocates II board member Danielle Gulasa and board president Brian Sealey conduct the awards ceremony during the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012.

Moore additionally thanked Representative Williams, CAII board member and 2012 golf tournament committee chair Danielle Gulasa, SouthWood Golf Club, leadership sponsor Leon County Sheriff's Office and refreshments sponsor Starbucks.

With the opening remarks and thank yous wrapped up, Sealey and Gulasa proceeded to announce and distribute the various awards, draw the raffle prize winners and bring the event to a close.

Awards and Prizes
Four donated tournament prizes were handed out to teams and players.

Fifteen donated raffle prizes were given away by drawing from the tickets cast earlier.

Teams, Players and Sponsors
Child Advocates II and the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program sincerely thank each and every one of our players and sponsors for their participation and support.

Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- The main sign for SouthWood Golf Club along Grove Park Drive during the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012. Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- A lone golf cart on the fairway green against a blue sky during the fourth annual CAII golf tournament at SouthWood Golf Club in Tallahassee, Florida on November 2, 2012.

Be sure to check out the CAII Golf Tournament 2012 photograph set on Flickr. Thank you again for making this event a success for the program and the children in our community.

The Connection and Three Success Stories

We recently added a new item to the Additional Resources section of the Current Volunteers page. The Connection, a quarterly magazine produced by the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (CASA), contains child welfare news of interest to volunteer guardians ad litem.

Each issue contains a feature story, perspectives from the partner and legal communities, tips for volunteers and much more.

The Connection's Fall 2012 feature article—"Improving the Odds for Children Through Educational Advocacy"—contains stories highlighting the successes of three guardian ad litem programs in the arena of educational advocacy.

"Many people in the child welfare system—including the young people who have transcended it—will tell you that the single most important factor in enabling youth to achieve success is educational achievement," the article's introduction states. "How do we ensure that children in the care of the state receive the education they deserve?"

The three stories demonstrate that "through focused efforts and community collaborations, we can make great strides toward giving abused and neglected children an opportunity for a better life."

You can read the entire feature article or jump to an individual success story.

Ask a Mentor: Getting Clear Information

Volunteer Question

In my case with "Susie," the mother often tells the dependency case manager (DCM) one thing and me another. This has happened at least three times.

She told me one afternoon that she needs a car seat and the very next day she told the DCM that her sister had loaned her one before the child was removed; so she is okay. That's one illustration.

Now I'm not sure what to believe the mother is telling me—either about what she needs or how things are progressing now that Susie, age three, is back in the home.

Mentor Answer

I'm sure this makes you uneasy. However, it probably won't help to confront the mother with this problem. Just ask questions which pinpoint or clarify what she is telling you.

For example, you could ask, "I want to be clear about this. Are you saying that you have no car seat for Susie at all and, therefore, cannot drive her anywhere?" She might then respond something like this, "I don't have one that I own and can keep for Susie. Right now I am using one my sister loaned me."

Some people just can't seem to provide clear, succinct information but don't really intend to tell you something untrue. But you will need to be persistent about getting clear information when an issue is involved that affects the safety and welfare of Susie.

Continue to be very observant of Susie—how she acts, what she says, how she plays and how she interacts with her mother—to judge whether her mother's reports about Susie are consistent with what you are observing.

If Susie is in daycare, the staff reports will be very useful to you in this regard also. Furthermore, as the mother becomes more comfortable with you and learns to trust you, she may become more straightforward in what she says. It is good that you are staying in contact with the DCM so that you can compare notes.