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

New Resources, Supporter and Staff Directory Published

We regularly add to and update the resources available on our website. The following updates were published recently.

Guardian ad Litem Pro Bono and Beyond

Guardian ad Litem Pro Bono and Beyond is a free video series produced in partnership with Florida's Center for Child Welfare featuring lectures by experts. The training will provide advocates with tools to effectively advocate for children in the dependency system.

A new subsection on the Current Volunteers page contains links to the nine Guardian ad Litem Pro Bono and Beyond videos plus their handout documents and quizzes. After watching the videos, reading the documents and taking the quizzes, volunteers may receive continuing education credit.

New Community Supporter

Akerman LLP is a Miami, Florida-based law firm originally founded in Orlando, Florida in 1920. One of the largest in Florida and country, Akerman is a general practice law firm known for encouraging diversity. Akerman's Tallahassee office is providing support to our program.

You can learn about all of our community supporters and CAII Partners CAII Partner on the Supporters page.

Photograph: Representative Williams and Circuit Director Moore

If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you may have already seen the photograph we posted earlier today of Representative Alan Williams and Circuit Director Deborah Moore.

The two were photographed at the Heard Your Cry Foundation press event on May 9, 2014. The Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program was one recipient of dolls donated to the foundation for survivors of sexual abuse.

Original Photo Credit: gal2.org --- Representative Alan Williams and Circuit Director Deborah Moore at the Heard Your Cry Foundation press event on May 9, 2014 in Tallahassee, Florida.

You can view all of our photographs on Flickr.

Staff Directory

Lastly, the staff directory was updated on May 19, 2014 to reflect recent personnel changes.

New Events: Continuing Education and Happy Hour Fundraiser

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
Icon: Fundraising Fundraising

A Voice Heard: 2014 Guardian ad Litem Program Status Report

Florida Guardian ad Litem Program "A Voice Heard: Let Kids Be Kids" 2014 Status Report

The Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office provides an annual report "to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court."[1]

This year's report — "A Voice Heard: Let Kids Be Kids" 2014 Status Report — was published in April 2014 and is available for download.

The statewide office's introduction to the report is provided below.

Early in 2014, Senate President Don Gaetz posed the question, "how do we know whether the laws we pass have the intended results?"

The Guardian ad Litem Program took this question to heart and decided that the program would determine whether the "Let Kids be Kids" bill passed in 2013 is allowing youth in foster care to have opportunities like any other youth in the community.

This report presents the findings of a survey of foster parents, guardian ad litem volunteers and Florida Department of Children and Families regional directors to determine the impact of this new law. The results show that "Let Kids be Kids" is a success about which Florida can be very proud.

Bill sponsors Senator Nancy Detert and Representative Ben Albritton listened to guardian ad litem volunteers, foster parents, members of Florida Youth SHINE and other child advocates as they crafted the law. House Speaker Will Weatherford and his wife Courtney, an active guardian ad litem herself, were also committed to make the proposal a reality.

The historic legislation became effective on July 1, 2013. The impact of this law validates that we all do better when we listen to the children who are most affected.

[1] § 39.8296 (2)(b)(7), Florida Statutes (2011).

Alan Abramowitz Receives National Award From HHS

On Thursday, May 1, 2014, the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program announced that Executive Director Alan Abramowitz was honored as recipient of a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration on Children, Youth and Families Commissioner's Award.

This year's awards, honoring "individuals from across the country for exceptional contributions to the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect," were given to twenty-nine individuals following nominations by community leaders during National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.

The press release is presented below. Congratulations to Alan Abramowitz!

Alan Abramowitz Named as Recipient of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families National Commissioners Award
by Kelly Razzano

Thursday, May 1, 2014
Press Release

Tallahassee, Fla. — Each year, the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) Commissioner's Award honors one person from each state for their exceptional contribution to the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect.

The 2014 Commissioner's Award recipient for Florida is Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program. Mr. Abramowitz, a member of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet, leads over 9,000 volunteers in what is widely considered one of our state's most effective advocacy initiatives, reaching over 20,000 children with quality representation of their best interests in dependency courts.

Governor Scott said, "The leadership and passion of Alan and the rest of the GAL volunteers to be a voice for children is exceptional. I congratulate him on receiving this national award and look forward to working with him to improve outcomes for children in the dependency system."

"Volunteers are the heart and soul of the GAL Program," said Alan Abramowitz. "The difference a person can make in the life of a child happens every day around the State. Guardians ad Litem have a heartfelt commitment to make a difference in the lives of abused and neglected children by providing them a credible and conscientious voice in the dependency court system."

Over the past three years the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program has been recognized with the Angels in Adoption Award in 2012 by the Congressional Coalition On Adoption Institute, the 2012 Eagle Award Winner of the Prudential Davis Productivity Award, and the 2013 and 2014 Davis Productivity Award.

In his previous employment with the Florida Department of Children and Families, Mr. Abramowitz served as the State Director of the Child Welfare Office, Chief Legal Counsel for Central Florida and manager of various regional and statewide offices. His background also includes serving as Assistant General Counsel for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, an Assistant State's Attorney for the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit, and an Assistant Public Defender for the Tenth Judicial Circuit. Alan has served as The Florida Bar Chair of the Rules of Juvenile Procedure. He has also served as chair of The Florida Bar Legal Needs of Children Committee and has appeared three times before the Florida Supreme Court advocating for rules impacting children in dependency court.

Mr. Abramowitz holds a Juris Doctor Degree from Florida State University, as well as a Master's Degree in public administration and sociology and a baccalaureate degree in psychology from Kansas State University where he played football for the Kansas State Wildcats. He has served with the U.S. Peace Corps (1990–92), the U.S. Army Reserves and the Florida Army National Guard. Alan and his wife, Jodi, have two children.

For information on the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program, visit www.GuardianadLitem.org.