The hub of information on our website, the blog contains posts with announcements, news and events, articles, periodicals and additions or updates to our website.

This page contains all published posts sorted chronologically with the newest at the top.

WFSU News: More Child Abuse and Neglect Means More Child Advocates Needed

WFSU Logo

Our program was recently featured in a story on WFSU News.

You can download an MP3 of the audio or read the transcript below. Thank you to WFSU for sharing our program with their audience.

More Child Abuse and Neglect Means More Child Advocates Needed
by Tom Flanigan

WFSU News
Friday, November 1, 2019

It seems more and more North Florida families are literally self-destructing.

"The cases and circumstances are more complex. The severity of the abuse and neglect seems to be at a higher level. There is considerable domestic violence and severe substance abuse (like) methamphetamine issues, so a lot of children are being severely neglected as a result of the parent or parents substance abuse."

That's Deborah Moore, Director of the Guardian ad Litem program for the Second Judicial Circuit.

"Starting about two years ago we felt a larger number, the most significant increase probably in the past year. This time last year, we were serving 150 children less than what we are now. So we are definitely at, if not over, 700 children for the Second Judicial Circuit, which covers 6 counties," she shared.

Each of those children is assigned an adult advocate. That person looks out for the best interests of the child as they are shunted through the legal system. And more cases means more advocates are needed so no child goes without.

"We were going along pretty well with the number of volunteer child advocates that we had to ensure that every child was assigned an advocate. But as those numbers increased, we've felt like we needed to put the gas pedal on a little more to recruit and ensure that we're bringing on as many volunteer child advocates as we need, no matter how many children are referred to us."

One such advocate is Sean Ruane. He became an advocate a few years ago.

"One of my neighbors was a foster parent," he remembered. "They had a number of children they were fostering and I could see the relationship they were building and how important it was to those children. Contrast that with the stories you hear day in and day out about the terrible things that are happening to children being neglected and abused. I've been blessed with a good job and a stable environment where I have spare time and how can I use that to help."

Ruane added being an advocate has been rewarding and fulfilling for him.

"I was very fortunate in that the first case that I worked with the young man was a teenager who was adopted and he's now attending college and doing pretty well. So it's very satisfying to see something like that. I know they're not always quite like that, but there's always an opportunity to make their lives better so I think every volunteer has some story where they've made lives better and therefore made THEIR life better."

At the same time, Ruane insisted the program's demands on his time haven't been a burden. Director Moore said all advocates assume their duties with all the tools they need to do the job.

"We want to make the training, which is critical to knowing what to do and how to do it, more convenient for individuals," she pointed out. "We've added Saturday and online training. There's a portion of the certification and training that is online, but we've added additional online so that will hopefully not be a barrier for anyone if they feel this is a good fit for them."

And Moore hoped being a Guardian ad Litem child advocate will be a good fit for more volunteers, especially men like Ruane and retirees, who bring a unique set of skills to the task. Information about the program is online.

"They can look at our local website: www.gal2.org. And then our statewide website is a great resource as well: www.guardianadlitem.org."

Holiday Gift Drive Updates and Staff Directory Update

Holiday Gift Drive Updates

The 2019 Guardian ad Litem Holiday Gift Drive event page has been updated with new donation locations. You can view all locations and hours of operation in the Drop Off Locations section.

We thank A Touch of Class, Jason's Deli and Uptown Café and Catering for their participation.

Staff Directory Update

Our staff directory on the Contact page has been updated to reflect recent personnel changes.

Please join us in welcoming Child Advocate Manager Daniela Echeverria, Senior Child's Best Interest Attorney Eric Emery and Assistant Child Advocate Manager Saffa Wilkes to our team. In addition, Nicole Blonsick has departed. We thank Nicole for her service and wish her the best with her future endeavors.

Finally, Maritza Waddle has changed positions to volunteer recruiter and Amy Parker-Martin's status as a contract attorney is now reflected.

Holiday Gift Drive, Staff Directory Update and Families In Need

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.

Holiday Drive Printable Flyer

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

Staff Directory Update

Our staff directory on the Contact page has been updated to reflect recent personnel changes.

Please join us in welcoming Intern Zoe Richmond to our team. In addition, Maritza Waddle and Erica Zamarron have departed. We thank Maritza and Erica for their service and wish them the best with their future endeavors. Finally, the title for Lillian Walker was updated.

Families In Need

The Families In Need request for toddler beds has been updated to "fulfilled" status. The program no longer accepts used beds. We thank all individuals and businesses for their past contributions.

Staff Directory Updates and Minor Housekeeping

Staff Directory Update

Our staff directory on the Contact page has been updated to reflect recent personnel changes.

Eric Emery, Taylor Tachell and Shanna-Kay Turner have departed. We thank Eric, Taylor and Shanna-Kay for their service and wish them the best with their future endeavors.

Minor Housekeeping

Several small updates were made to the Continuing Education page and resource center to remove out-of-date content.

Event Cancellations and Staff Directory Update

The following events have been cancelled and removed from our calendar.

Those still interested in the educational surrogate program can register for upcoming classes in May, September, October or November.

Staff Directory Update

Our staff directory on the Contact page has been updated to reflect recent personnel changes.

Please join us in welcoming Child Advocate Manager Melissa Moore-Josephs to our team. Additionally, two mobile numbers were added and two staffers' surnames were updated.

Rescheduled Trainings, Optima Refreshers and Volunteer Form Update

Four of this year's upcoming volunteer training classes have had dates rescheduled. The event pages, calendar and downloadable flyers have been updated accordingly.

Optima Refresher

In addition, seven upcoming Optima Refresher classes have been rescheduled. The event pages, calendar and downloadable flyers have been updated.

Volunteer Form Update

The GAL Report To The Court form has been updated. Word and PDF versions of the form can be downloaded from the Form and Document Library on the Current Volunteers page.

Rescheduled Trainings, Staff Directory Update and One New Continuing Education Library Item

A number of this year's upcoming volunteer training classes have had dates rescheduled. The event pages, calendar and downloadable flyers have been updated accordingly.

Staff Directory Update

Our staff directory on the Contact page has been updated to reflect recent personnel changes.

Please join us in welcoming Assistant Child Advocate Manager Nicole Blonsick to our team. Additionally, four other staffers' titles were updated.

Continuing Education

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

  • Prevention Resource Guide
    Downloadable materials to help individuals and organizations in every community strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.
    filed under Victimization of Children and Website

New Event, Staff Directory Update and a New Volunteer Resource

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.

Staff Directory Update

Our staff directory on the Contact page has been updated to reflect recent personnel changes.

Please join us in welcoming Child Advocate Manager Maritza Hofius and Legal Specialist Shanna-Kay Turner to our team. In addition, an erroneous duplicate entry was removed and Alexis Conner's mobile number was added.

New Volunteer Resource

A new tool for volunteers has been added to the "Resources" section of the Current Volunteers page. The new "Volunteer Resource List" is a document curated by the Volunteer Advisory Committee.

Two Event Changes Plus Staff Directory Updates

Event Updates

Two training events were recently updated. The Volunteer Training: March 2019 B event originally scheduled in Leon County has been relocated to Gadsden County. The exact location of this event, now renamed Volunteer Training Gadsden: March 2019, is to be announced. This rescheduling is in response to the cancellation of the Volunteer Training Gadsden: February 2019 session.

Staff Directory Update

Our staff directory on the Contact page has been updated to reflect recent personnel changes.

Please join us in congratulating Kerri Posey on her promotion to Senior Child Advocate Manager. In addition, Tammy Harris, Ayana Hale and Shelby Pederson have departed. We thank Tammy, Ayana and Shelby for their service and wish them the best with their future endeavors.

Forty-Four New Events

Happy New Year!

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 over the past four weeks.

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