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 March 2016 archive sorted chronologically with the newest at the top.

WFSU-FM Radio Program Features Guardian ad Litem Program and CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids

WFSU Logo

On Thursday, March 24, 2016, the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program and Child Advocates II, Inc. (CAII) were featured on an entire episode of Perspectives, a listener call-in radio program on WFSU 88.9 (WFSU-FM).

Hosted by Tom Flanigan, the episode highlights our program and mission while featuring commentary from Circuit Director Deborah Moore and two program volunteers, CAII Board President Omega Wynn and CAII Board Member Kristine Lamont.

For nearly an hour, Flanigan and company discussed the role of guardians ad litem in the court system, shared stories of how volunteers and community supporters make a difference in the lives of children and gave information on the upcoming CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids fundraiser. Several callers also had the chance to ask questions and have them answered.

With proceeds benefiting our program, CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids is a friendly annual competition for amateur and professional bakers and an opportunity for the public to raise money for our program by sampling the delicious results.

This year's competition is on Saturday, April 16, 2016 and the deadline for contestants to enter is Friday, April 1, 2016* at 11:59 PM ET. Visit gal2.org/cupcake for complete details and to purchase tasting cards, enter the competition or register as a sponsor.

The entire episode is a great listen. You can visit the Perspectives website, download an MP3 of the audio or listen to the piece on YouTube, also embedded below.

Thank you to WFSU-FM and Tom Flanigan for sharing our program with their listeners.

Circuit Director Deborah Moore, CAII Board Member Kristine Lamont, CAII Board President Omega Wynn and Host Tom Flanigan in the WFSU-FM studio for Perspectives on March 24, 2016 in Tallahassee, Florida

Photo: WFSU-FM

* Friday, April 3 had been shown erroneously on parts of the event page, but this has been corrected.

Leon County Judge J. Layne Smith Conducts A Well-Received Continuing Education Training Event

On Wednesday, March 16, 2016, over thirty-five guardian ad litem volunteers and staff — almost standing room only — attended a continuing education session called Court Testimony Training with Leon County Judge J. Layne Smith, our guest presenter.

Judge Smith shared information about the court testimony process and criteria. Staff and volunteers were informed about what to expect in court as a witness, how to prepare for court testimony and understand from a judge's perspective how witnesses are evaluated.

Many volunteers had positive feedback about the training and suggested we have a follow-up training!

Thank you to Judge Smith for conducting such a great continuing education event.

Leon County Judge J. Layne Smith and volunteers participating in Court Testimony Training on March 16, 2016 at the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program office in Tallahassee, Florida

Photo: gal2.org

Eight New Guardian ad Litem Volunteers Sworn In

On Wednesday, March 16, 2016, eight new volunteers were sworn in as guardians ad litem at the Leon County Courthouse in Tallahassee, Florida.

The ceremony was presided over by the Honorable Karen Gievers, a dependency court circuit judge who often officiates our volunteer swearing in events. Volunteer Recruiter Sara Blumenthal and Volunteer Trainer Christine Gornik were also on hand, as was one of our outstanding veteran volunteers Stuart Zirin.

view the Volunteers Sworn In 2016-03-16 photograph album

After a brief welcome and introduction by Blumenthal, Judge Gievers began by having the volunteers approach the bench. Addressing the group, Judge Gievers had the volunteers introduce themselves and then briefly discussed the process from her perspective, highlighting the importance, value and essential nature of guardians ad litem.

After speaking, Judge Gievers had the volunteers raise their right hands and repeat the oath as administered. Afterward, she took a few minutes to personally meet each individual and pose for photographs before moving on to her next judicial proceeding.

We are very proud of and thankful for all of our volunteers and the work that they do. Congratulations and welcome to our newest volunteer guardians ad litem!

Franklin County's The Dinner Divas Raise $3,200 In Fundraiser For Our Program and Local Children

On Saturday, March 12, 2016, a local group of women hosted an event that ended up raising over three-thousand dollars for our program's children.

The Dinner Divas Present: A Coastal Cocktail Buffet Fundraiser was a fun and tasty opportunity for citizens in Franklin communities to raise money for a good cause.

The Dinner Divas are a group of women from St. George Island and elsewhere in Franklin County who combine their love of entertaining with their spirit of service by hosting parties that raise funds for a particular purpose.

Raising about $3,200 in all for Child Advocates II, Inc. (CAII), the charitable, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit volunteer organization founded to support the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program, the event was obviously a wonderful success.

"Please express our appreciation to your board and that of CAII for permitting the Dinner Divas to host a party for Child Advocates II and Guardian ad Litem Program," said Dinner Diva Pat O'Connell. "We are so pleased with ourselves that we could draw such a good crowd to raise funds for the kids of Franklin County."

Representing our program at the event — hosted at a couple's home in Eastpoint, Florida — Volunteer Recruiter Sara Blumenthal was able to meet the attendees and provide information about volunteering as a guardian ad litem, describe our projects and answer everyone's questions.

"Sara Blumenthal did a wonderful job representing you all," O'Connell complimented. "Although the fundraising was completed, she managed to get another $500 from the crowd with her spirited explanation of the value of these programs."

Thank you to Pat O'Connell and the rest of the Dinner Divas, plus everyone who attended the fundraiser! Your generous contributions are truly appreciated.

The Dinner Divas pose with food and flowers at The Dinner Divas Present: A Coastal Cocktail Buffet Fundraiser on Saturday, March 12, 2016 in Eastpoint, Florida.

Photo: The Dinner Divas

Four New Events and Five New Resource Library Items

New Events

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 added to our calendar.

You can also browse and access events on our calendar grid.

Continuing Education

Five new library items have been added to our Continuing Education resource center.

  • Florida Independent Living Services: Outcome Measures and Oversight Activities 2015
    A report published on Sunday, January 31, 2016 by the Florida Department of Children and Families Office of Child Welfare as required by Florida law.
    filed under Older Youth and Article

  • Parents Aging Out of the Child Welfare System
    A technical report published on Thursday, December 10, 2015 by the Florida State University Florida Institute for Child Welfare.
    filed under Older Youth and Article

  • Improving the Quality of Residential Group Care: A Review of Current Trends, Empirical Evidence and Recommendations
    A technical report published on Sunday, July 26, 2015 by the Florida State University Florida Institute for Child Welfare.
    filed under Older Youth and Article

  • Staywell Over-the-Counter Benefits
    Details about the Staywell by WellCare plan benefits, which includes $25 worth of over-the-counter items per household each month.
    filed under Physical Health and Website

  • Sunshine Health Benefits and Rewards
    Details about the Sunshine Health plan benefits and rewards programs.
    filed under Physical Health and Website

Two New Events: Grandparents as Parents

New Events

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 added to our calendar.

New Event, Event Update, New Program Newsletter and Staff Directory and eForm Update

New Event

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 event was added to our calendar.

Event Update

An event sponsor for this year's CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids has increased their donation.

Originally joining up as a bronze sponsor, Akerman LLP is now participating as a gold sponsor. They are supporting this fun and tasty event for the second year in a row.

In addition, three Tallahassee restaurants — Barnaby's Family Inn, Hopkins' Eatery and Newk's Eatery — have donated gift certificates to be given away as event prizes.

With proceeds benefiting the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program, CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids is a friendly annual competition for amateur and professional bakers and an opportunity for the public to raise money for our program by sampling the delicious results.

This year's competition is on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at the Florida Department of Transportation W. Haydon Burns Building Auditorium across from Cascades Park in Downtown Tallahassee.

Visit gal2.org/cupcake for complete details and to purchase tasting cards, enter the competition or register as a sponsor.

Thank you to Akerman, Barnaby's Family Inn, Hopkins' Eatery and Newk's Eatery for their support!

New Program Newsletter

The Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program is pleased to announce the debut of our new official newsletter, Guardian Guide.

Guardian Guide is a print-style periodical published by staff and emailed to volunteers. It is used to highlight information, people and activities occurring in our circuit.

You can download the inaugural and future issues of Guardian Guide on the Newsletters page.

Staff Directory and eForm Update

Our staff directory on the Contact page plus our Child Visitation Report and Report to the Court eForms have been updated to reflect recent personnel changes.

Please join us in welcoming Child Advocate Manager Berline Belizaire and Child Advocate Manager Ayana Hale to the team. We also welcome Child Advocate Manager Heather Adelstein, joining us on temporary assignment from the statewide office.

Twelve New Events, Updated Event, New Continuing Education Library Items, Media Appearances and a Photograph

New Events

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 added to our calendar.

Do you prefer boxes to lists? Browse and access our events on the calendar grid instead.

Event Update

A local family has joined as an event sponsor for this year's CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids.

The Lamont Family is participating as a gold sponsor. They have supported this fun and tasty event for three years in a row.

With proceeds benefiting the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program, CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids is a friendly annual competition for amateur and professional bakers and an opportunity for the public to raise money for our program by sampling the delicious results.

This year's competition is on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at the Florida Department of Transportation W. Haydon Burns Building Auditorium across from Cascades Park in Downtown Tallahassee.

Visit gal2.org/cupcake for complete details and to purchase tasting cards, enter the competition or register as a sponsor.

Thank you to The Lamont Family for their support!

CAII Cupcakes and Cookies for Kids

Continuing Education

Three new library items have been added to our Continuing Education resource center.

  • #JustAdulting Legal Survival Guide for Young Adults
    A mobile website designed by the Florida Bar to help young adults understand their legal rights and responsibilities when they turn eighteen and providing tools and resources outlining how Florida law can affect their lives.
    filed under Older Youth and Website

  • Criminal Background Check Aid
    A quick aid with information on how to research and determine if someone involved in a child's case is incarcerated, was recently arrested or is registered as a sexual offender or predator.
    filed under Domestic Violence, Guardians ad Litem, Victimization of Children and Article

  • Florida Statewide Assessment Program Schedule 2015–2016
    Schedules for the Florida Standards Assessments (FSA), Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS) and other statewide assessments for the 2015–2016 school year as revised on Friday, October 30, 2015.
    filed under Educational Advocacy and Article

Media Appearances

We are pleased to announce two upcoming appearances on local radio stations. These outreach opportunities are the perfect forum for people to learn about our program, how to get involved and participate in forthcoming events.

  • Sunday, March 6, 2016, 10:00 AM
    John and Tammy In The Morning on STAR 98.9 (WBZE-FM)
    featuring Volunteer Recruiter Sara Blumenthal and
    CAII Board Member Kristine Lamont

  • Thursday, March 24, 2016, 11:00 AM
    Perspectives on WFSU 88.9 (WFSU-FM)
    featuring Circuit Director Deborah Moore,
    CAII Board President Omega Wynn and
    CAII Board Member Kristine Lamont

Thank you to WBZE-FM and WFSU-FM for sharing our program with their listeners.

New Photograph

Starbucks Regional Manager Omega Wynn — longtime CAII board member and current board president — recently came across a photograph of himself with Circuit Director Deborah Moore at an event several years ago.

As a reflection of Wynn's dedication and service to the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program and in recognition of our ongoing partnership, we have added this photograph to the Child Advocates II, Inc. page. Thanks, Omega!

Starbucks Regional Manager Omega Wynn (currently CAII Board President) and Circuit Director Deborah Moore at a Florida Department of Children and Families summit on Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Starbucks Regional Manager Omega Wynn (currently CAII Board President) and Circuit Director Deborah Moore at a Florida Department of Children and Families summit on Wednesday, August 28, 2013.