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

Guardian ad Litem Holiday Gift Drive Provides Gifts For Over 450 Local Children

Each year, Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program staff and volunteers along with Child Advocates II, Inc. (CAII), our nonprofit support organization, work with local businesses, community organizations and individuals to ensure that every child represented by our program receives gifts for the holiday season.

Thanks to their generous support, the 2016 Guardian ad Litem Holiday Gift Drive was a great success, providing gifts to over 450 children.

Volunteer Recruiter Sara Blumenthal was on hand for the volunteer shopping and celebration event on Saturday, December 10, 2016 and took photographs. You can view the seven photographs she took and then read her post-event news release below.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's holiday drive!

Guardian ad Litem Program Hosts Santa Shopper Event
by Sara Blumenthal

Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program
Monday, December 12, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Florida — The Guardian ad Litem Program and its nonprofit organization, Child Advocates II hosted its annual Santa Shoppers event on December 10, 2016 at St. Paul's United Methodist Church. Volunteers shopped for abused and neglected children so that each will have presents for the holidays.

The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program is a volunteer-based organization that advocates for abused and neglected children in the court system and community. Child Advocates II (CAII) supports the program and provides funding for the needs of the children and families. With the support of community sponsors, CAII is able to collect toys and gift cards.

"We are fortunate that with the support of our community our children can experience joy this holiday season," said GAL Circuit Director Deborah Moore.

This year CAII was able to collect hundreds of toys and gift cards for the about 450 children. The church was transformed into a store where volunteers were able to fulfill the children's wishes.

"The generosity of the community was amazing," said CAII president Omega Wynn. Donations included tablets, over 36 bicycles, play kitchens and gift cards to local stores and restaurants. "It's was so exciting to see how this community comes together to support our children."

Volunteers will be delivering the gifts to the children.

"The smiles you receive are amazing. Our families are going through challenging times," said retired educator and GAL volunteer Janice Little. "This gesture during the holiday times makes such impact. We get to be elves, which is so fun."

CAII and the GAL program want to thank everyone who made this event possible, including Akerman Law Firm, TJ Maxx, Maclay school, Holy Comforter Episcopal school, Earl Bacon Agency, Pennington Law Firm, Seminole Sitters and ESPN Radio.

For more information on the GAL program or to learn how get involved, please visit www.gal2.org or contact Sara Blumenthal at 850-606-1213 or sara.blumenthal@gal.fl.gov.

In Print: Volunteer Dorothy Binger Recognized By Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Cabinet and Volunteer Florida

On Tuesday, December 6, 2016, one of our outstanding volunteers was recognized by Governor Rick Scott, the Florida Cabinet and Volunteer Florida.

Those familiar with our program all certainly know or have heard of Dorothy "Dot" Binger, an award-winning volunteer with a heart of gold. During the agenda of the cabinet meeting, Binger was presented with the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award, "Florida's official statewide volunteer recognition."

The official news release about Binger's recognition is reproduced below. You can also view a photograph from the event.

Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida Present Champion of Service Award at Florida Cabinet Meeting
by Staff

flgov.com
Tuesday, December 6, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Florida — During today's meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman awarded Dorothy "Dot" Binger with the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award, Florida's official statewide volunteer recognition.

Governor Rick Scott said, "It is an honor to present Dot with the Volunteer Florida Champion of Service Award today for her tremendous advocacy on behalf of neglected and abused children across Northwest Florida. We are thankful for her service."

Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman said, "Volunteer Florida is proud to recognize Dot for her tireless commitment to Florida's at-risk children. We are grateful for the opportunity to recognize her service to children and her passion for education."

About the Champion of Service: Dorothy Binger, better known as "Ms. Dot," is a Guardian ad Litem volunteer for six counties in Northwest Florida. Guardian ad Litem, part of a statewide coalition of community advocates and professional staff, provides a powerful voice on behalf of Florida's abused and neglected children. Dot has served as a Guardian ad Litem volunteer since 1989, serving for over 27 years and advocating for more than 60 children in Florida's Panhandle.

Dot was the third person hired in 1966 at Tallahassee Community College. Her passion for children and education inspired the Envision Credit Union to establish a student scholarship in honor of her work. The Dorothy Binger Scholarship has awarded over $400,000 in scholarship tuition to over 1,200 Tallahassee Community College students.

Volunteer Florida is Florida's lead agency for volunteerism and national service, administering more than $32 million in federal, state, and local funding to deliver high-impact national service and volunteer programs in Florida. Volunteer Florida promotes and encourages volunteerism to meet critical needs across the state. Volunteer Florida also serves as Florida's lead agency for volunteers and donations before, during, and after disasters. For more information, visit: www.volunteerflorida.org.

Three New Events, Three New Continuing Education Library Items and Two Volunteer Document Updates

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 events were added to our calendar.

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

Continuing Education

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

  • Understanding Child Welfare and the Courts
    A fact sheet by Children's Bureau designed to answer parent and caregiver concerns about the court process and provide resources regarding legal action and parental rights.
    filed under Dependency and Booklet

  • Birth Parents with Trauma Histories in the Child Welfare System
    A guide for court-based child advocates by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network addressing several common questions about trauma in parents and children.
    filed under Article and Families

  • Module 7: Becoming An Advocate
    A training slide deck by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network on how to be an advocate and support trauma-focused assessment and treatment for a child.
    filed under Slides and Families

Form and Document Library

Two updated documents are now available to download in the Form and Document Library on the Current Volunteers page.

  • Optima Volunteer Guidelines
    filed under Optima

  • Normalcy Checklist
    filed under Forms and Documents: Normalcy

Circuit Director and Volunteer Recruiter Selected For New Statewide 'I Am For The Child' Marketing Committee

I am for the child

On Friday, November 18, 2016, Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program Executive Director Alan Abramowitz announced the establishment of a new statewide marketing committee. This committee will serve in an advisory role to the statewide office and its nonprofit foundation regarding the marketing and relaunch of the "I am for the child" campaign.

We are especially proud to have two representatives — Circuit Director Deborah Moore and Volunteer Recruiter Sara Blumenthal — on this committee, which is comprised of ten members serving a term of two years.

"Indicating a willingness to serve on the statewide marketing committee, as you did, was a gift of offered leadership that is highly prized," said Abramowitz in his announcement email.

Moore, Blumenthal and the other members will help develop "concepts, plans, strategies, programs and activities that support, facilitate and guide the marketing efforts" of the campaign.

The membership of the new committee is as follows.

  1. Deborah Moore
    Second Circuit Director, Member of the National CASA Suburban Council

  2. Sara Blumenthal
    Second Circuit Volunteer Recruiter

  3. Bryan Carter
    First Circuit Director

  4. Melinda Brown
    Fourth Circuit Director

  5. Lauren Manville
    Seventh Circuit Volunteer Recruiter

  6. Suzanne Trump
    Fifth Circuit Child Advocate Coordinator

  7. Megan Wade
    Thirteenth Circuit Volunteer Recruiter

  8. Nicole Toque
    Nineteenth Circuit Volunteer Recruiter

  9. Jessica Allen
    Eleventh Circuit Director, Member of National CASA Urban Council

  10. Shaw Thomas
    Fifteenth Circuit Non-Profit President (Speak Up For Kids)

Congratulations to Moore, Blumenthal and the other eight members of the new committee.

In Print: Guest Speaker and Letter to the Editor

Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program Circuit Director Deborah Moore talking as guest speaker during the National Adoption Day Celebration on Friday, November 18, 2016 at the Leon County Human Services Center in Tallahassee, Florida
Photo: gal2.org

Last month, Circuit Director Deborah Moore took part in several events for National Adoption Month. One such event was the National Adoption Day Celebration on Friday, November 18, 2016 at the Leon County Human Services Center in Tallahassee, Florida, where Moore was featured as a guest speaker (see photograph).

In addition, Moore was also published in the Tallahassee Democrat by way of a letter to the editor. Her letter is reproduced below.

Thank you to the Leon County Human Services Center and Tallahassee Democrat for sharing our program with the community.

Letter: Celebrate National Adoption Month
by Deborah Moore

Tallahassee Democrat
Wednesday, November 23, 2016

November is National Adoption Month. The celebration is sponsored by the Children's Bureau in collaboration with AdoptUSKids and Child Welfare Information Gateway. The Guardian ad Litem Program supports the national effort to raise awareness about the need for adoptive families.

This year, special attention is on helping youth ages 15–18 in need of the emotional support a family connection can provide and the youth deserve. Without the family connection, youth often age out of foster care without anyone to provide guidance and support, leaving them subject to homelessness and poverty.

The Guardian ad Litem Program works with volunteers in the community to advocate for the best interest of abused and neglected children in Leon, Gadsden, Wakulla, Jefferson, Franklin and Liberty counties.

I am so proud of our part to ensure every child has the best chance of a permanent caring and loving family. This year, as we observe National Adoption Month, I hope readers will join with our program to reflect on our obligation to provide lifelong connections for youth.

For more information on how you can help, visit www.GAL2.org or call 850-606-1213.

Deborah Moore, Circuit Director, Guardian ad Litem Program

Eighteen New Events Plus 1st Beginnings Project Page 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.

Project Page Update

The 1st Beginnings project page has been updated. The Household Items List section and download are both updated to reflect recent changes.

Three New 'Learning Optima' Continuing Education Events Plus Staff Directory and eForm Updates

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.

It is vital that all of our volunteers learn the new Optima case management system. The following three sessions of Learning Optima were added to our calendar.

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

Staff Directory and eForm Updates

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 Camber Page has departed. We thank Camber for her service and wish her the best with her future endeavors.