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 2013 archive sorted chronologically with the newest at the top.

First Continuing Education Article for 2014–2015 Added

One way that volunteer guardians ad litem can earn continuing education credit hours is to read a select group of articles, documents and presentations on our website.

While the entire group of articles for fiscal year 2014–2015 are not expected until Q4 2013, a single presentation on normalcy has been added and is now available.

Volunteers who read the normalcy presentation may receive one (1) hour of credit. Remember, you can report your hours online quickly and easily.

As always, we will announce future additions and updates here on the blog and on Twitter. If you have any questions about continuing education, please email christine.gornik@gal.fl.gov.

New Events: Continuing Education and Special Event

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.

Kudos: Maureen Barker

I would like to give kudos to Maureen Barker for her work and dedication to the child in her case.

Working with the child since February 2008, Maureen stuck with him all the way and made sure that her voice was heard when it came to finding the right permanent home and figuring out how to transition him into it. He is a very special kid with unique needs, requiring a lot of time and patience for everyone involved in his life.

Although the child had a tough time accepting a forever family, with Maureen's assistance he finally did and was adopted earlier this month.

Congratulations and thank you to Maureen for a job well done!

Original Photo Credit: WoodleyWonderworks --- thank you note for every language ('thank you' written in various languages)

Kudos: Six Outstanding Volunteers

I have worked with a lot of amazing guardians ad litem recently. Kudos to the following six volunteers who made a difference!

  • Stacey Burnsfor being "clutch"
    We had an emergency hearing with very complicated issues and no time to prepare, but I knew that I could put Stacey on the spot because she knows her case so well. And she did great; I couldn't have gotten through it without her!
     
  • Jennifer Jennings-Gloverfor being a super investigator
    Jennifer is so on top of her case and knows what's going on with everybody involved. Thanks to her input and information, I was able to pursue a motion to change a case plan knowing that I had a solid evidentiary basis.
     
  • Debbie Leofor putting up with one of the most unstable cases
    Debbie takes calls from the child and parents even at all hours of the night. She shows up to the home to help calm explosive situations and provide much needed support for the child.
     
  • Patti Sanzonefor driving a child all the way to Mississippi to attend her father's funeral
    Patti offered and was willing to take the child, even on extremely short notice. This trip provided the child with an invaluable opportunity to connect with family members, some of whom she had not seen in quite some time or ever met.
     
  • Carol Ostapchukfor her amazing patience and support for the family on her case
    Carol goes out of her way to be in contact with both parents and be available when they need her. She even recently bought the mother a stroller and other supplies for the baby she is expecting.
     
  • Tamara Rossfor doing such a great job testifying at a TPR court hearing
    This was her first case and you would have thought she was a pro. Even the judge commented on how credible she was during the hearing.
Original Photo Credit: WoodleyWonderworks --- thank you note for every language ('thank you' written in various languages)
Update
2013-10-15: updated Jennings-Glover and Ostapchuk volunteer names

Moore, Sealey and GAL Program Featured on WFLA-FM

On Friday, September 13, 2013, the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program and Child Advocates II, Inc. (CAII) were featured on The Morning Show with Preston Scott on WFLA-FM.

From 7:38 AM to 7:52 AM, Circuit Director Deborah Moore and CAII Board President Brian Sealey joined Scott to discuss our program, what we do, the importance of volunteers and how CAII contributes. It was a great discussion and provides an excellent introduction to our program.

You can listen to the segment of the show (12:46) in the following ways.

Thank you to Preston Scott, Producer Nick Pierce, WFLA-FM 100.3 and Clear Channel for having us on the air to share our story with their listeners.

Original Photo Credit: WFLA-FM --- Preston Scott, Deborah Moore and Brian Sealey in the WFLA-FM studios on September 13, 2013 in Tallahassee, Florida.

New Events: Continuing Education 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 continuing education events have been recently added to our calendar.

Watford and Wynn Recognized at Statewide Awards Event

On Wednesday, August 28, 2013, the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office held an awards ceremony and reception to recognize outstanding volunteers, staff and community supporters who go above and beyond in each of Florida's twenty judicial circuits.

Representing our program were Janet "Jan" Watford, nominated for her outstanding service as a volunteer guardian ad litem, and Starbucks District Manager Omega Wynn, nominated for his exemplary work and dedication as a community supporter.

In addition to the circuit award, Watford was also named "Most Valuable Advocate of the Year 2013" by the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office, its Executive Director Alan Abramowitz and Governor Rick Scott.

Original Photo Credit: Jan Watford --- Volunteer guardian ad litem Janet 'Jan' Watford (third from left) with Deborah Moore, sister Cookie and husband Jim at the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program awards reception on August 28, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.Original Photo Credit: Jan Watford --- Volunteer guardian ad litem Janet 'Jan' Watford (right) with her sister Cookie at the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program awards reception on August 28, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.

Original Photo Credit: Omega Wynn --- Volunteer guardian ad litem and community supporter Omega Wynn with Circuit Director Deborah Moore at the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program awards reception on August 28, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.Original Photo Credit: Omega Wynn --- Circuit Director Deborah Moore with volunteer guardian ad litem and community supporter Omega Wynn at the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program awards reception on August 28, 2013 in Orlando, Florida.

click for larger or visit the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Awards 2013 photo set

These are but the latest of honors for Watford and Wynn this year.

In April, Watford was named Volunteer of the Year by the Tallahassee Democrat. In June, both Watford and Wynn took top awards — Volunteer of the Year and Community Supporter of the Year, respectively — at our annual Guardian ad Litem Appreciation Day event.

Days later, Watford went on to represent herself and our program at the national Jefferson Awards for Public Service gala in Washington, D.C. where she was recognized in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis category.

Congratulations to Jan Watford, Omega Wynn, Starbucks and all of the other nominees and winners!

Update
2013-10-08: added two photographs of Omega Wynn to article and photo set

New Event: 2013 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 events have been recently added to our calendar.

  • 2013 Holiday Wish List Drive
  • Every year, non-profit volunteer support organization Child Advocates II, Inc. (CAII) works with local businesses, organizations and individuals throughout Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties to ensure that each and every one of the children represented by our program in need of gifts this season receives them.
     
  • Volunteers — wish lists due by Friday, November 1, 2013
    Use our new online wish list form!
     
  • Sponsors — drop off gifts by Friday, December 6, 2013

Help Wanted — New Volunteer Guardians ad Litem Needed

Become A Guardian ad Litem Volunteer -- Learn How You Can Help gal2.org (850) 616-1200

Around fifty children represented by our program do not have a volunteer guardian ad litem assigned. It is essential that we recruit and train additional volunteers to fill this gap.

The Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program exists to provide support and representation to abused, abandoned and neglected children in the dependency system.

Guardians ad litem — court-appointed volunteers who protect the rights of and advocate for the best interests of a child involved in a court proceeding — ensure that independent recommendations focusing on the unique needs of the child are provided to the court.

We need your help.

Volunteers are critical to the success of our mission. As people move away, take new jobs or otherwise become unable to serve, we must continually recruit new volunteer guardians ad litem.

Volunteering with our program is a very rewarding experience, so please consider becoming a volunteer guardian ad litem yourself. We provide you with the necessary training and assign a member of our staff to work with you on cases.

If you yourself cannot volunteer, please share our need with your family, friends and co-workers.

Our website contains a lot of information that should answer any questions that you may have. Check out the specific resources below to learn more.

  • Guardian ad Litem Position Description
    • Overview and Supervision
    • Duties and Responsibilities
    • Training and Support Plan
    • Time Commitment
    • Qualifications, Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
    • Benefits of Becoming a GAL Volunteer
    •  
  • Frequently Asked Questions
    • What is a guardian ad litem?
    • What is the role of a guardian ad litem?
    • What are the duties and responsibilities of a guardian ad litem?
    • What are the best interests of the child?
    • What types of cases require a guardian ad litem?
    • What are the qualifications to be a guardian ad litem?
    • Do volunteer guardians ad litem need to be attorneys?
    • How much time must volunteer guardians ad litem commit?
    • Can state employees receive paid leave volunteering as a guardian ad litem?
    • How do people apply to become a volunteer guardian ad litem?
    • …plus answers to eight other questions
    •  
  • Pre-Service Training

Are you ready to get started? Completing an application is the first step. After the receipt of your completed and signed application, our office will work with you on the next steps.

If you still have questions about any aspect of volunteering for our program, feel free to contact us.

Any assistance that you can provide — whether by volunteering or sharing this message and need for volunteers with your friends, families and co-workers — is greatly appreciated.

Thank you!

Original Photo Credit: David July/gal2.org --- Children in a tour group look at the eastern view from the twenty-second floor of the Capitol during Guardian ad Litem Day on February 9, 2012 in Tallahassee, Florida.
UPDATE 2013-09-09: changed from "seventy" to "fifty" the number of children without a guardian ad litem; the larger figure was from July 2013 and is out of date.

Event Update: Florida Safety Framework Methodology

On Saturday, August 31, 2013, a tentative event flyer was published for "Child Protection Transformation Project" continuing education training on Friday, September 27, 2013.

Complete details for this event — Florida Safety Framework Methodology — have been added to the event flyer including the presenters, topic highlights, location and a downloadable flyer.

View the event flyer to learn more and register to participate.