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 2016 archive sorted chronologically with the newest at the top.

Video: A Few Words From Our Judges

On Thursday, May 19, 2016, the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program hosted the 2016 Volunteer Appreciation Dinner and Reception. Although our event report and photographs are still in production, we are pleased to share a special video with you in the meantime.

Produced by our program and first shown to volunteers and staff during the dinner, "A Few Words From Our Judges" features five judges and magistrates with the Second Judicial Circuit sharing their thoughts on guardians ad litem, what they do and the difference that they make for children. It has a runtime of four minutes and forty-seven seconds.

You can watch the video on YouTube, which is also embedded below.

Thank you to Judge Martin A. Fitzpatrick, Judge Karen Gievers, Magistrate Acelo I. Pedroso, Judge Jonathan E. Sjostrom and Judge Jill C. Walker for taking part in this special video and to our staff who created it.

New Events, Continuing Education Library Item, Staff Directory and eForm Update

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

One new library item was added to our Continuing Education resource center.

  • Fostering the Future
    A collection of first-hand accounts of what it means to be a child in state care curated by Children's Rights and updated annually.
    filed under Foster Care, Article and Website

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.

Child Advocate Manager Kimberly Nester has departed. We thank Kimberly for her service and wish her the best with her future endeavors.

New Event, Event Update and a New Photograph

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.

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

Event Update

The Educational Surrogate Training session on Monday, May 23, 2016 has been rescheduled to begin two hours later. The training will now take place from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM at our offices on Thomasville Road.

New Photograph

The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) Florida State University Student Chapter hosted the IMA Golf Driving Range Fundraiser on April 9, 2016. A photograph of Circuit Director Deborah Moore at this event has been uploaded to our Flickr account. You can see the photo below.

Thanks to the Institute of Management Accountants for their support of our program!

Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program Circuit Director Deborah Moore and a representative of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) Florida State University Student Chapter at their IMA Golf Driving Range Fundraiser on April 9, 2016 in Tallahassee, Florida

New Community Supporter: Virtual Kiwanis of the Big Bend

The Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program and Child Advocates II (CAII) work together to build partnerships with individuals, businesses and organizations in the Big Bend region.

Without the assistance provided by our CAII Partners CAII Partner and community supporters, ensuring children have a court-appointed volunteer guardian ad litem, legal assistance and financial resources would be extremely difficult.

The Supporters page has been updated to included the following addition, filed under Social Service Organizations.

Virtual Kiwanis of the Big Bend

Logo: Virtual Kiwanis of the Big Bend

We thank Virtual Kiwanis of the Big Bend and all of our partners and supporters for their generous contributions to children in our community.

Deborah Moore of the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program speaking at the Virtual Kiwanis of the Big Bend board meeting on March 28, 2016 Photo: Virtual Kiwanis of the Big Bend

Guardian ad Litem Volunteers and Staff Recognized At Local Volunteerism Awards Luncheon

Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program Child Advocate Manager Kimberly Nester being recognized on stage at the Tallahassee Democrat Volunteers of the Year Awards luncheon on Thursday, May 5, 2016 in Tallahassee, Florida
Photo: gal2.org

On Thursday, May 5, 2016, the Tallahassee Democrat hosted their thirty-eighth annual Volunteers of the Year Awards luncheon at the FSU University Center Club ballroom. The Volunteers of the Year Awards recognize "people and organizations who volunteer their time and effort to make our community great."

This year, we are proud to have seven volunteers and staff in two categories among the nominees acknowledged for their public service in the Big Bend region.

  • Professional Volunteer Coordinator
  • Kimberly Nester
  • Social/Civic Services
  • Sara Blumenthal
  • Kathleen Cole
  • Jane and Patrick Dallet
  • Krista Killius
  • Elizabeth "Betsy" Purdum

The Professional Volunteer Coordinator category is for "paid professionals employed to promote volunteerism within the nonprofit sector" and the Social/Civic Services category is for "a person that encourages growth in the community as a whole by acting and advocating for societal causes, such as, but not limited to, citizenship, legal affairs or animal/environmental concerns."

In addition to her nomination in the Professional Volunteer Coordinator category, Kimberly Nester was also selected as one of the three nominee finalists. She ultimately received an "Honorable Mention" award.

Congratulations to Kim and all of our amazing nominees!

Six New Events, Event Update, New Continuing Education Library Item and April's Newsletter

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.

Event Update

The Volunteer Training: June 2016 page was updated to include a print flyer, which is now available for download.

Continuing Education

One new library item was added to our Continuing Education resource center.

  • Book Review List 2016
    A list of child-appropriate books on sexual abuse with prices, age ranges and links to more information.
    filed under Victimization of Children and Booklet

Newsletter

The latest issue of Advocacy Post is now available to download.

First called Guardian Guide in its debut issue, Advocacy Post is a print-style periodical published by staff and sent to volunteers. It is used to highlight information, people and activities occurring in our circuit.

You can download current and past issues of Advocacy Post on the Newsletters page.

Beyond the newsletter, you can stay informed by subscribing to the gal2.org Updates weekly email digest. You can also follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Florida State Park Passes Provided to Foster Families

On Monday, May 2, 2016, the Florida Department of Children and Families issued a press release with excellent news for foster families.

The press release is reproduced below in case you missed it.

DCF and DEP Partner to Provide State Park Passes to Foster Families
by Michelle Glady

Monday, May 2, 2016
Press Release

Passes for 15,000 foster families to enjoy Florida's outdoors during
National Foster Care Month

Tallahassee — The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF), together with its community partners, have joined the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to celebrate foster families during National Foster Care Month. State Park passes will be distributed to 15,000 families throughout Florida to celebrate foster parents and the tremendous call they have answered to serve the community's most vulnerable children.

"Our foster parents make their hearts and homes available to frightened, vulnerable children day and night and surround them with love and normalcy during times of crisis," DCF Secretary Mike Carroll said. "This is a way to thank them for their generosity and also provide a wonderful opportunity for these families to come together to reflect and celebrate their journey together."

The partnership builds on an annual program that encourages foster children and their families to engage in outdoor recreation and supports them in the journey to lead more normal lives and create lasting memories with their foster families. Park passes will be distributed to foster parents throughout the state by Community-Based Care (CBC) lead agencies and local DCF offices.

"The Department of Environmental Protection is proud to join DCF and its partners to support the important role foster parents play improving the lives of Florida's children and communities," DEP Secretary Jon Steverson said. "Our award-winning state parks are a great place for families to spend time together and enjoy some of Florida's most treasured natural resources."

Foster parents change lives and offer hope to children who have been removed from their homes by no fault of their own, but because they have experienced abuse or neglect and cannot safely remain with their parents. CBC lead agencies throughout the state work to recruit, license and match foster parents with children in need of short and long-term homes. Each CBC works to address the unique needs of their communities in recruiting foster parents.

Florida's 174 state parks, trails and historic sites inspire residents and visitors with recreational opportunities and scenic beauty that help strengthen families, educate children, expand local economies and foster community pride. With 163 state parks and 11 state trails, families are attracted by the beaches, freshwater springs, historic sites and variety of recreational opportunities available.

For more information on becoming a foster parent visit www.MyFLFamilies.com or contact the CBC in your area, http://myflfamilies.com/service-programs/community-based-care/cbc-map. For more information on Florida's state parks, visit www.floridastateparks.org.

Contact:
Michelle Glady, DCF Press Secretary, 850-717-4450
DEP Press Office, 850-245-2112

eForm Update Improves Performance and Usability

A teenage boy engrossed in his smartphone

An updated version of our eForm application has been launched and is currently available for use.

First introduced on Wednesday, July 8, 2015, eForm provides a streamlined way to submit forms and reports to program staff. Featuring dynamic fields and controls, eForm is easy to use on any device at home or out in the field.

The new version of eForm includes numerous changes to the interface and under the hood.

  • Core Upgrade
    The underlying software was upgraded to the latest version, which includes security and performance improvements.

  • Visual Update
    A new interface theme, based on the original, was created to be compatible with the core upgrade. It includes changes to increase legibility and performance.

  • Improved Compatibility
    The new theme also includes enhancements to improve rendering on all devices, especially smaller ones such as smartphones and tablets.

  • Options Removed
    The options to view, download and save submissions were removed due to incompatibility with the core upgrade. The existing email option can be used for this instead.

You can browse a list of forms, reports and documents both in eForm and print-ready format by visiting the Form and Document Library on the Current Volunteers page.

We hope that volunteers and staff will find the new eForm changes to be an improvement. Either way, your feedback and bug reports are always appreciated.

You can submit your feedback using the Contact eForm — select the "Website" option on the "Subject" drop-down menu — or by posting a comment to this post using the form below.

Thank you!