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.

Event Handouts and Staff Directory Update

Event Handouts

Two handouts — Conditions For Return and Incarcerated Parents — from the Legal Update continuing education event on Thursday, August 23, 2018 are now available for download on the event page.

Staff Directory Update

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

Katelyn Carmona, Rachael Smith and Tracy Wills have departed. We thank Katelyn, Rachael and Tracy for their service and wish them the best with their future endeavors.

Three Educational Surrogate Lunch and Learn Sessions Rescheduled, One Cancelled

A number of changes have been made to the four Educational Surrogate Lunch and Learn continuing educations events scheduled through November 2018.

  • August 2018
    The class on Thursday, August 30, 2018 has been rescheduled one hour earlier to 12:00 PM. In addition, the course presenter and event contact have been updated.

  • September 2018
    The class on Thursday, September 27, 2018 has been cancelled.

  • October 2018
    The class on Thursday, October 25, 2018 has been rescheduled one hour earlier to 12:00 PM. In addition, the course presenter and event contact have been updated.

  • November 2018
    The class on Thursday, November 29, 2018 has been rescheduled to Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 12:00 PM, one hour earlier. In addition, the course presenter and event contact have been updated.

New Volunteer Training In Wakulla County and Our Program On WTXL-TV

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.

Our Program On WTXL-TV

Our program and the upcoming new volunteer training in Wakulla County were recently featured on ABC 27 News on WTXL-TV. You can watch the video segment or read a transcript below.

Thank you to WTXL for sharing our program with their viewers.

Volunteers needed for Big Bend Guardian ad Litem program
by WTXL-TV

ABC 27 News
Thursday, August 16, 2018

WAKULLA COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) - Hundreds of children are tied to court cases in the Big Bend.

The Second Judicial Circuit says it needs more volunteers to advocate for them.

It probably isn't the first place you'd take a kid to have fun, but for some, the courtroom is part of their lives.

"While their parents are going through dependency court issues, we are here to make sure that they're not overlooked," said Taylor Tachell, who's a volunteer recruiter for the Guardian ad Litem program.

The Guardian ad Litem program vouches for needs like food, clothing and education, sometimes therapy.

"These children are our future, and these children are all children who have either been abused or neglected in their life," said Tachell.

And the cases just keep coming, almost double what they've been in recent months.

Right now, there are more than 580 children who need a guardian. Each of them has one, but some of these guardians are covering more than one case and more than one child.

"What you give as a volunteer is returned to you many times over by what you get out of that service," said Rachel Pienta, the president-elect of the Wakulla County Chamber of Commerce.

The Wakulla County Chamber of Commerce wants residents to think about signing up. We met the president-elect in Tallahassee, where she said half of the county's residents work.

"People are working eight, nine, ten-hour days or longer," said Pienta. "How much time is left over to volunteer?"

Guardians ad litem typically spend eight to ten hours a month on a case and it doesn't all have to be in court.

"You can take the children out for lunch or to the park, something like that," said Tachell.

An escape from an unfamiliar place, but having a familiar face next to them could make that process a little more bearable.

The program will spend two Saturdays in Wakulla County next month for training, but volunteers are needed in several surrounding counties. You can find out more information about how to volunteer here.

Update Roundup: Events, Staff Directory, Continuing Education Library, Training, Brochure, Community Supporter, Foundation

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.

  • Legal Update
    Continuing Education
    Thursday, August 23, 2018

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

Rescheduled Events

The following events have been rescheduled.

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 Ashley Kelley and Volunteer Recruiter Taylor Tachell to our team.

In addition, Annette Riddle and Sara Urban have departed. We thank Annette and Sara for their service and wish them the best with their future endeavors.

Continuing Education Library Update

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

  • Trauma Informed Practice and the Opioid Crisis
    A discussion guide for health care and social service providers about the links between violence, trauma and opioid addiction by the Centre of Excellence for Women's Health.
    filed under Substance Abuse and Article

Training Updates

The Training page has been updated to reflect changes to the independent study curriculum. Three downloadable resources — Volunteer Training Manual, New Volunteer Training Program Handbook and Fieldwork Checklist — also have new versions available.

New Statewide Brochure

The statewide Guardian ad Litem Program brochure has been replaced with a newer version. It is available to download in the Frequently Asked Questions section on the Prospective Volunteers page.

New Community Supporter

Without the assistance provided by our partners 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.

Higher Ground Bicycle Company is a Tallahassee, Florida-based bicycle shop founded in 2001 offering road and mountain bikes, accessories and service. In 2018, Higher Ground began displaying our program's brochures and yard sign at their store, plus donated free and discounted bikes for older youth in need.

Logo: Higher Ground Bicycle Company

We thank Higher Ground Bicycle Company and all of our partners and supporters for their generous contributions to children in our community.

Foundation Page Update

The Foundation's Memberships section on the Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit, Inc. page has been updated. Their Institute for Nonprofit Innovation and Excellence (INIE) membership is now reflected.

New Event, Event Cancellations, Continuing Education Library Update and New Community Supporter

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 Cancellations

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

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

Continuing Education Library Update

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

  • Zero To Three Journal: Infants and the Opioid Epidemic
    The May 2018 (Volume 38 Number 5) issue discussing practice and policy considerations; implications for early relationships and interventions; identifying and addressing gaps in care; and improving child welfare services.
    filed under Early Childhood, Substance Abuse, Article and Booklet

New Community Supporter

Without the assistance provided by our partners 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.

Morningstar Storage is an Matthews, North Carolina-based self-storage facilities company founded in 1981. Morningstar's branch off Thomasville Road in Tallahassee provides a storage unit for the 1st Beginnings project.

Logo: Morningstar Storage

We thank Morningstar Storage and all of our partners and supporters for their generous contributions to children in our community.

Update
2018-06-04: Correction: Morningstar provides a unit for the 1st Beginnings project, not the Sweet Dreams Program

Local Event Raises Funds, Sends Two Over The Edge For Guardian ad Litem

Over The Edge Tallahassee

Nonprofit partner Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit, Inc. (GALF2) is always looking for new and exciting ways to recruit volunteers and raise money. On Saturday, April 21, 2018, they did just that by participating in Over The Edge Tallahassee, a unique event benefiting our program and two community supporters.

Hosted by Killearn United Methodist Church and The Living Harvest Thrift Store, this fundraiser supports local nonprofits by sending individuals over the edge: rappelling from the roof of the sixteen-floor DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in downtown.

During the beautiful and warm day, GALF2 board members and program staff ran an information booth set up on Adams Street at Park Avenue where they spoke with the public and raised awareness for our mission. Arguably the most exciting parts of the day, however, were when two of our own went up to the roof and then over the edge.

The first on deck was your author, GALF2 board member and webmaster David July. I had volunteered a month earlier, but did not learn that I had been selected to go until twenty-four hours prior. It was an exhilarating experience, not one that I would have previously imagined doing.

Less than thirty minutes later, Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program Circuit Director Deborah Moore appeared at the rooftop ledge and then joined the "edger" club. Following her rope descent from the roof, Moore was all smiles.

view the Over The Edge Tallahassee 2018 photograph album

Killearn United Methodist Church has been providing contributions to our program for several years. Since 2015, their iServe community service initiative, led by John Cousins, has donated over 210 beds (about $50,000 worth) plus bedding, storage and delivery services to our Sweet Dreams Program. The Living Harvest Thrift Store also helps by acquiring discounted mattresses, box springs and frames.

Speaking with Cousins during the event, he granted permission for a return to the roof to take photographs. Having just gone through it myself, it was fun to witness people stepping through the process of going over the edge for the first time. Among those who rappelled during that time were Betty and Ginger, lifelong friends known as "The 80s Ladies", and Cousins' wife Julie.

Thank you to everyone who donated and helped work the event!

New Events: Great Southern BBQ Fundraiser, Continuing Education Film

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.

Great Southern BBQ Fundraiser

Partner organization Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit, Inc. is hosting a fundraiser benefiting our program in time for outdoor barbecuing season.

The fourth annual Great Southern BBQ Fundraiser is a delicious way to join the foundation on its mission to provide for the needs of local abused and neglected children. Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit is a charitable, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit volunteer organization founded to support the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program.

For this fundraiser, the foundation partnered with Johnston's Meat Market to offer five types of slowly cooked and hickory smoked meats: Boston butt, picnic ham, sausage, ribs and bacon.

Participating in the fundraiser is easy.

   ❶   Place your order by Thursday, June 21, 2018

   ❷   Pick up your food on Thursday, June 28, 2018

   ❸   Enjoy the meats with your family and friends while helping local children

You can place your order online or order by telephone. Visit the event page for complete details and contact information.

Just in time for your spring or summer cookout, the Great Southern BBQ Fundraiser is an easy way to make a difference in the life of a child and let someone else do some of the cooking.

Please browse the menu and place your orders today. Thank you for your support!

Fifteen New Continuing Education Events, Staff Directory Update and Our Program In Print

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.

Staff Directory Update

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

Child's Best Interest Attorney Ian Carnahan has departed. We thank Ian for his service and wish him the best with his future endeavors.

In Print

An article written by Volunteer Recruiter Sara Urban recently appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat. The article is reproduced below.

Thank you to the Tallahassee Democrat for sharing our program with their readers.

Opioid crises weighs on Guardian ad Litem program
by Sara Urban

Tallahassee Democrat
Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Each day a child is a victim of abuse or neglect. April was Child Abuse Prevention Month. During the month, the nation focused on child abuse prevention and the goal for all children to have a safe, healthy nurturing childhood. The Guardian ad Litem Program works every day to achieve that goal.

"Every child deserves a safe, healthy and permanent home. Every child deserves a great childhood," said GAL Program Circuit Director Deborah Moore.

The GAL Program is volunteer-based, and advocates in court and in the community for children who have experienced abuse and neglect.

"We work with our advocacy team to achieve better outcomes for these children and families," said Moore.

According to the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, neglect is responsible for more than 61 percent of children who are removed from their parent's care and placed in the child welfare system. A major cause of neglect is parental substance abuse issues. More and more children are coming into the child welfare system. Many of them are victims of the drug and opioid epidemic.

"It isn't about a desire to care for their children. Substance abuse issues take away these parents' ability to care for their children," says Child Advocacy Manager Supervisor Tammy Harris. "They are unable to provide basic needs for their children, from food to personal care to supervision."

Day after day, Harris sees families in crisis due to substance abuse. She sees kids come into the child welfare system who have suffered because their parents have failed to care for them. Some are malnourished. Some do not have clean clothes. Some are found all alone.

"Unfortunately by the time we see these children and families, trauma has already occurred. Our team does its best to ensure the children do not experience additional trauma," said Harris.

The team does this by working with child welfare partners to ensure resources are provided to the family to treat the substance abuse issues and encourage the parents to get the help they need.

"I want our families to heal. I want our parents to be able to deal with their issues and reunify with their children," said volunteer advocate Maria Augustyniak. "If by providing support I can help that happen, then what could be a better use of my time?"

The GAL advocacy team, which includes a volunteer advocate, Child Advocate Manager and Child Best Interest Attorney, makes sure these children receive the services they need to mitigate the trauma they have experienced. Child abuse and neglect affect physical, intellectual and social development.

The children are also at a higher risk of developing substance abuse issues themselves or becoming re-victimized as adults.

"It's about helping one child at a time and ensuring they have the chance of a brighter future," said Augustyniak.

The GAL Program, thanks to its nonprofit Guardian ad Litem Foundation 2nd Circuit, is able to provide for the needs of the children and families it serves. Harris says many days will find her shopping for clothes and diapers.

"These children come in sometimes with nothing," said Harris. "We do our best to help meet their needs."

The ultimate goal is to help these children and families before trauma occurs. The GAL Program supports Prevent Child Abuse Florida and Child Abuse Prevention Month. Both stress the importance of recognizing warning signs and providing front end support and resources.

"The more resources and interventions we provide theses families before abuse or neglect occurs, the better. My wish is no child ever suffers abuse or neglect," said Moore.

Unfortunately, Moore realizes with the drug crisis more and more children will be victims of abuse and neglect. In the last two years, the number of children entering the child welfare system in Florida has increased by 14 percent. The local circuit has also seen increase in children coming into service.

Moore says the program and its trained volunteer advocates, who are community members who have decided to get involved and make a difference, will continue to be there for these children and families.

"We will not stop," said Moore. "Our volunteer advocates and our team will continue to advocate and work so every child can have a positive childhood and therefore a brighter future."

To learn more on how you can get involved, please visit www.gal2.org.

Sara Urban is the Volunteer Recruiter for the 2nd Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program.

Three New Fundraisers, New Special Event, Staff Directory Updates, Foundation Email and More

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.

Staff Directory Updates

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

Please join us in welcoming Child Advocate Manager Alex Castellanos, Child Advocate Manager Paige Nirenberg and Administrative Specialist Lillian Walker to our team.

New Foundation Email Address

Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit, Inc. is now using info@galf2.org as their main email address. We have updated our website accordingly.

Please update your address books to remove the old address, childadvocates2@gmail.com.

1st Beginnings Updates

The page, print flyer and print letter for our 1st Beginnings project have been updated. They no longer reference Child Advocates II, Inc. or CAII.

When Child Advocates II became Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit, Inc. last year, we swept our website to update the name and logo. Somehow the 1st Beginnings project resources were missed; this update corrects that oversight.

New Community Supporter: Computer Tutors U.S.A.

The Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program and Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit, Inc. work together to build partnerships with individuals, businesses and organizations in the Big Bend region.

Without the assistance provided by our partners 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.

Computer Tutors U.S.A., Inc.

Computer Tutors U.S.A., Inc. is a Tallahassee, Florida-based computer training business founded in 1981 providing information technology education to government and private sector clients. Through owner Robert J. Sereico, Computer Tutors provides support for the annual holiday gift drive and is also helping procure used computers to be refurbished and donated to local youth represented by our program.

Logo: Computer Tutors U.S.A., Inc.

We thank Computer Tutors U.S.A., Inc. and all of our partners and supporters for their generous contributions to children in our community.