In Print: Abramowitz Editorial, Florida Budget News

On Wednesday, May 22, 2013, Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program, had an opinion piece published in the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

A few days later on Tuesday, May 28, 2013, Abramowitz emailed staff and volunteers to announce the signing of the state budget, which includes the Guardian ad Litem Program legislative budget request.

Both articles are presented below in case you missed them.

State expands advocacy for Florida children in foster care
by Alan Abramowitz
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Daytona Beach News-Journal
Opinion

I want to thank Florida's guardian ad litem volunteers for their continued dedication to the children we serve.

I am privileged to be able to travel across the state of Florida, hearing stories of devotion and perseverance in representing Florida's children. The stories are inspiring and make me proud to be a part of the Guardian ad Litem program. Our 9,000-plus volunteers' commitment is not only noticed by me, the children they represent and those within the child welfare community — it is noticed by those in Florida's Legislature and even the governor's office.

Every time I have met with Gov. Rick Scott, he has talked to me about how impressed he is by the work of the thousands of guardian ad litem volunteers, also known as "volunteer child advocates." Scott has friends who are volunteers, and has heard firsthand the enormous impact GAL volunteers make on the lives of children. He understands the essential and often difficult work they do every day. His words are heartfelt — he truly believes in the difference our volunteers are making in children's lives.

It is wonderful to have such unwavering support from Scott. This year, he supported our legislative budget request to expand volunteerism so children can have volunteer child advocates in more cases. I anticipate that soon more than 75 percent of the children who need a guardian ad litem will finally have that voice advocating for them. Our mission is better outcomes for the children we serve — more volunteers will help us achieve our mission.

Other good news: Some of the children we represent are placed in nursing homes, depending on their needs. Scott recently signed a law that would provide representation to meet the needs of these children. With the signing of this law, children placed in nursing homes will now have their voices heard in administrative hearings; representation in attaining guardianships; representation so they may receive services through the Agency for Health Care Administration or the Agency for Persons with Disabilities; and help accessing federal benefits.

Scott recently wrote a letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner. In the letter he made specific reference to the guardian ad litem program. The governor identifies some "highlights of our strategic Florida Families First budget investments," and includes that "the Florida Families First budget provides $3.8 million to increase volunteers to represent dependent children through court proceedings and $323,000 to provide attorneys ad litem for dependent, disabled children in nursing homes."

Our program will use these dollars consistent with the Legislature's and governor's goal to expand representation and provide effective and efficient representation creating better outcomes for the children we serve.

Thanks again to Scott, Senate President Don Gaetz, and Speaker Will Weatherford for their efforts and recognition that all our volunteers do in expanding representation in foster care so more children will have a voice.

It is an honor to support the efforts every day to impact children's lives.

Abramowitz is the executive director of Florida's Guardian ad Litem Office. Previously, he served as administrator of the Department of Children and Families district that included Volusia and Flagler.

Copyright © 2013, Daytona Beach News-Journal. All Rights Reserved.

Governor Signs Budget
by Alan Abramowitz
Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Great news today for children in foster care.

First, I want to thank you all for your continued dedication to the children we serve. I am privileged to be able to travel across the state of Florida hearing your stories of devotion and perseverance in representing Florida's children. Your stories are inspiring and make me proud to be a part of the Guardian ad Litem Program. Your commitment is not only noticed by me, the children you represent or those within the child welfare community—it is noticed by those in Florida's legislature and even the Governor's office.

Every time I have met with Governor Rick Scott, he has talked to me about how impressed he is by the work of the thousands of Guardian ad Litem volunteers. Governor Scott has friends who are volunteers and has heard firsthand the enormous impact GAL volunteers make on the lives of children. He understands the essential and often difficult work you do every day. His words are heartfelt—he truly believes in the difference you are making in children's lives.

It is wonderful to have such unwavering support from Governor Scott. This year, Governor Scott supported our Legislative Budget Request to expand volunteerism so children can have volunteer child advocates in more cases. I anticipate that soon more than 75% of the children who need a GAL will finally have that voice advocating for them. Our mission is better outcomes for the children we serve -more volunteers will help us achieve our mission.

As you may know, some of the children we represent are placed in nursing homes depending on their needs. Governor Scott recently signed a law that would provide representation to meet the needs of these children. With the signing of this law, children placed in nursing homes will now have their voices heard in administrative hearings; representation in attaining guardianships; representation so they may receive services through AHCA or APD; and help accessing federal benefits.

Governor Scott recently wrote a letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner. In the letter he made specific reference to the Guardian ad Litem Program. The Governor identifies some "highlights of our strategic Florida Families First budget investments" and includes that the "The Florida Families First budget provides $3.8 million to increase volunteers to represent dependent children through court proceedings and $323,000 to provide attorneys ad litem for dependent, disabled children in nursing homes."

I pledge to each of you that our program will use these dollars consistent with the legislatures and Governor's goal to expand representation and provide effective and efficient representation creating better outcomes for the children we serve.

Thanks again to Governor Rick Scott, Senate President Don Gaetz, and Speaker Will Weatherford for their efforts and recognition of all that you do in expanding representation in foster care so more children will have a voice.

It is an honor to support your efforts every day to impact children's lives.

Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program
Alan F. Abramowitz
Executive Director

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