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 February 2014 archive sorted chronologically with the newest at the top.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Continuing Education Articles

Logo: The Judges' Page

A new set of articles is now available for continuing education credit.

The Winter 2014 issue of The Judges' Page newsletter, a topical periodical published by the National CASA Association and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, focuses on fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD).

Volunteers who read all of the articles linked to below may may receive two (2) hours of continuing education credit. Afterward, report your hours quickly and easily using our eForm.

  1. American Juvenile Justice and Child Welfare System Reforms Addressing FASD
  2. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: What Judges and Other Legal Professionals Need to Know
  3. A Neurodevelopmental Paradigm for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
  4. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Key Services for Children in Foster Care
  5. Parents Who Have FASD in Dependency Courts
  6. FASD: Modifications for the Disability in the Courtroom
  7. Identifying Youth with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder in the Juvenile Justice System
  8. Yukon Community Wellness Court Offers Options for Those Afflicted with FASD
  9. Innovative FASD Intersectoral Training and Judge-Led Discussion in Saskatchewan
  10. Recognizing and Serving Children with FAS/FASD from the Bench
  11. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: How Judges Can Improve Outcomes for Affected Children and Parents
  12. Social Security Benefits May Provide Greater Stability for Individuals with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders
  13. Focusing on the Perception Piece of the FASD Puzzle Faced by Schools: Making a Difference for Students
  14. Advocating for the Proper Educational Services and Community Support for Children with FASD
  15. Facing the Challenge: FASD and Frontline Policing
  16. Parent-Child Assistance Program Comes to Lake County Tribal Health Consortium
  17. Navigating the System with FASD
  18. Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: Implications for the Juvenile Justice System

In Print: WCTV Visits CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids

Logo: WCTV Eyewitness News

On Saturday, February 8, 2014, television's WCTV Eyewitness News covered the CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids event held at Leon High School.

Written by Emily Johnson, the article discusses the Child Advocates II, Inc. (CAII) fundraiser in support of the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program that invited professional and amateur bakers to engage in a friendly competition. The public was invited to purchase tickets and sample the goods.

Thank you to WCTV for sharing our program with their viewers. The article is presented below in case you missed it.

Sweet Treat Fundraiser For Kids
by Emily Johnson

Saturday, February 8, 2014
WCTV Eyewitness News

Tallahassee, FL — Sweet treat were being served and eaten at the Leon High School cafeteria this afternoon. It was all for the Child Advocates II, Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids Fundraiser. The Child Advocates II organization is a not for profit, volunteer group that raises money for the Guardian ad Litem program.

"When you support a program like this it provides the resources necessary to give some sense of normalcy for the kids. If there are things they need that's hard for someone to provide then Child Advocates II tries to provide those resources for the Guardian ad Litem, so those things can be met," said Kristine Lamont, Child Advocates II.

Child Advocates II says they had 40 to 50 folks come out for the delicious treats.

Copyright © 2014, WCTV Eyewitness News. All Rights Reserved.

Family In Need: Beds, Dresser, Pots and Pans [Fulfilled]

We regularly encounter families who are in need of living assistance but our resources are extremely limited. When special requests for essentials such as beds, linens, clothing and school supplies come in from families, our staff reach out to the community for help in fulfilling those needs.

If you can assist in fulfilling the below request or have any questions, please get in touch with the request contact. Thank you for your help!

  • Status
  • Request
    Three (3) children's beds (ages 4, 6 and 7)
    One (1) adult bed
    One (1) dresser for the children
    Assorted pots and pans
  • Narrative
  • Contact
    Janay Davis
    (850) 606-1230
2014-04-01: update status to "fulfilled"

New Pre-Service Training Videos and Resources

Original Photo Credit: Ed Yourdon --- Riverside Park stroll - June 2008 - 010 (a woman helps a child play tee ball)
Photo: Ed Yourdon

Thanks to the First Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program, we have been able to expand our website's pre-service training resource page.

Our new training videos section features twelve videos, each of which is also accompanied by a slide deck. In addition, quizzes for each section are included for review and self-evaluation.

The videos, slides and quizzes join existing information on our pre-service training program, a downloadable volunteer training manual and a list of upcoming training classes in our circuit. A state-specific addendum to the training manual has also been added.

Visit the Training page today to access the basic information, manual, videos and class list.

Volunteer guardians ad litem are required to complete thirty hours of pre-service training in order to become certified and then undergo regular recertification. Our comprehensive curriculum includes classroom learning, reading, court observation and practice activities.

Guardians ad litem are citizens who volunteer to represent children before the court, social service agencies and the community. Volunteers are trained and supervised by our program's staff and attorneys. On average, guardians ad litem devote approximately eight to ten hours per month and while doing so create relationships that can make a huge impact on children's lives.

To become a guardian ad litem, you must be at least twenty-one years old, pass a criminal background and complete a thirty-hour pre-service training program. Young adults nineteen or twenty years old may become certified and are allowed to work under the guidance of and in partnership with a guardian ad litem twenty-one or above.

In Print: The Times Apalachicola and Carrabelle

Logo: The Times Apalachicola and Carrabelle

On Wednesday, January 22, 2014, an piece about our program was featured in the The Times Apalachicola and Carrabelle newspaper.

Written by Lois Swoboda, the article provides an overview of what we do, talks about a recent community outreach opportunity led by Volunteer Recruiter Sara Blumenthal and notes the support provided by Child Advocates II, Inc. (CAII).

Thank you to The Times Apalachicola and Carrabelle for sharing our program with their readers.

The article is presented below in case you missed it. Please note that while the original piece incorrectly referred to Sara Blumenthal as "Karen", the reproduction below corrects this error.

GAL seeks to serve every child
by Lois Swoboda

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
The Times Apalachicola and Carrabelle

The guardian ad litem system is making it easier to volunteer in Franklin County.

A guardian ad litem (GAL), an advocate appointed by the court to represent the interests of an underage person, serve as the voice of the child and may represent the child in court. GALs may assist where a child is removed from a hostile environment, usually by the Florida Department of Children and Families, and in those cases may assist in the protection of the minor child.

GALs are also appointed in cases where there has been an allegation of child abuse, neglect or juvenile delinquency. In these situations, the GAL represents the best interests of the minor child, which can differ from the position of the state or government agency as well as the interest of the parent or guardian. A guardian ad litem is an officer of the court and in Florida, is usually a volunteer.

At the Jan. 9 luncheon of the Apalachicola Bay Chamber of Commerce, Sara Blumenthal, spokesperson for the GAL program, urged Franklin County residents to consider representing a child.

She said volunteers are desperately needed. She said guardians ad litem require 30 hours of training in Florida.

Blumenthal said GAL will hold a training session in the county this spring to make it easier for county residents to participate. Once trained, advocating for a child requires about 10 hours a month, much of it spent doing research or speaking with people outside of the courtroom.

Except for court dates, the schedule for GAL volunteers is flexible. Court dates take place in Franklin County.

Blumenthal said, in addition to representing the children in court, GAL volunteers seek to provide more normalcy for children who are neglected, abused and displaced.

A second not-for-profit, Child Advocates II (CAII), supports GAL by raising funds to provide clothing, transportation, school supplies, housing, medical and dental care and more for children whose total needs are not met by existing state agencies. This may include children in the foster system and young people over 18 who "age out" of care and may be handed their belongings in a plastic trash bag and left with no place to go.

CAII helps kids aging out of the system to get set up in their first home. Blumenthal said that in 2013, they provided gifts for more than 400 children at Christmas. CAII serves Leon, Franklin, Gadsden, Wakulla, Jefferson, and Liberty counties.

For more information about CAII, GAL and volunteering opportunities, visit or call (866) 341-1425.

Copyright © 2014, The Times Apalachicola and Carrabelle. All Rights Reserved.

Family In Need: Bed and Mattress [Fulfilled]

We regularly encounter families who are in need of living assistance but our resources are extremely limited. When special requests for essentials such as beds, linens, clothing and school supplies come in from families, our staff reach out to the community for help in fulfilling those needs.

If you can assist in fulfilling the below request or have any questions, please get in touch with the request contact. Thank you for your help!

  • Status
  • Request
    Full Size Bed and Mattress
  • Quantity
    One (1)
  • Narrative
    An eighteen-year-old girl has recently moved out on her own and cannot afford a bed.
  • Contact
    Shuneki Brown
    (850) 606-1222
2015-12-21: update status to "fulfilled"

Florida's Center for Child Welfare Newsletter

We regularly share events and resources hosted or produced by Florida's Center for Child Welfare at the University of South Florida. Did you know that they have a weekly newsletter available on their website and by email?

Covering hot topics, new information and resources, each newsletter generally features a specific topic and provides events and in depth information on that topic. Some of the training opportunities presented may also qualify for continuing education credit.

Sign up for the newsletter today to get new issues as soon as they are published and then review their archive to read past issues.

New Events: Continuing Education Training

We regularly host, sponsor and support a variety of events that provide community outreach, increase awareness of our program, help recruit new volunteers, raise funds and furnish training to our volunteer guardians ad litem. The following events were recently added to our calendar.

Icon: Book Continuing Education

In addition, our event flyer for the previously scheduled Saving Our Youth: Faces of Human Trafficking event on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 has been refreshed with new and updated information.

Finally as previously reported, the March 2014 pre-service training class has been cancelled. Visit our annual training schedule for classes throughout the year.