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.

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.

In Print: Guardian ad Litem Serves Needs Of Abused Children

An article about our program recently appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat. The article is reproduced below.

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

Scan of newspaper article

Guardian ad Litem serves needs of abused, abandoned children
by Ellen Piekalkiewicz

Tallahassee Democrat
Monday, January 29, 2018

Try to imagine the unimaginable, a frightened child being removed from their home for the child's own safety. When this happens there is often no time to gather a child's belongings. They are taken to safety confused, alone, with nothing but the clothes on their back, no shoes and without so much as a toothbrush or underwear.

Enter the Guardian ad Litem Program. The Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program serves as a powerful voice on behalf of abused and neglected children in Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties. The Guardian ad Litem Program is part of a statewide coalition of community advocates and professional staff.

These children are real, and sadly, are seen on a regular basis.

Just recently, two siblings were removed from their parents who were addicted to drugs. They had lived under neglected circumstances without their most basic needs being met. They were removed from their home with tattered clothes and shoes held together with tape.

Their lives changed dramatically when they were provided with safe shelter and then met their Guardian ad Litem (GAL). Their GAL, thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit, was able to take the children shopping (something they had never done).

The children gratefully received new shoes and articles of clothing making their transition to their new environment that much easier to endure.

The Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit supports the Guardian ad Litem Program and is a charitable, not-for-profit organization. All of their efforts are performed by volunteers. Donations provide clothing and shoes, items for infants such as cribs and diapers, school supplies, food, housing and utility expenses, child care, after-school care, summer camps, and support the training of GAL volunteers and staff.

Without the community's assistance, these needs would go unfulfilled.

The community's help for these children makes a big difference in the quality of their lives. "Despite the incredible sadness surrounding these children, it is so meaningful that the GAL Program is able to bring some normalcy into their lives and even some joy," says Jennifer West, President of GALF2 and a Guardian ad Litem volunteer.

Consider becoming a GAL volunteer or making a contribution to this worthwhile effort. More information can be found at gal2.org.

Ellen Piekalkiewicz is the executive director of United Partners for Human Services. She has more than 25 years of experience working for nonprofits and federal agencies.

New Franklin County Event, Staff Directory Updates and Newsletter Retirement

New Franklin County 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.

Staff Directory Updates

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

Volunteer Recruiter Sara Blumenthal is now known as Sara Urban.

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

Newsletter Retirement

As it has been nearly two years since the last issue was published, we have officially retired the newsletter feature of our website. The page has been removed; the sidebar and footer site map have been updated; and the associated files and images deleted.

We thank everyone who contributed to our newsletters over the years.

New Events: Ten Training Classes For New Volunteers

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.

Happy New Year!

Holiday Gift Drive Report, Quilt Raffle Fundraiser Report and New Foundation Logo

Holiday Gift Drive Report

Each year, our all-volunteer nonprofit support organization Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit, Inc. works with local businesses, community organizations and individuals to ensure that every child represented by the Second Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program receives gifts for the holiday season.

Thanks to the community's generous support, the 2017 Guardian ad Litem Holiday Gift Drive was an outstanding success. Providing gifts to hundreds of local children and youth, the drive brought in an impressive range and quantity of items.

  • $2,645 in gift cards
  • 8,000 wipes
  • 4,500 diapers
  • 150 trucks, dolls and action figures
  • 100 books and board games
  • 100 baby and toddler toys
  • 75 stuffed animals
  • 69 bicycles, tricycles and scooters
  • 60 sets of blocks
  • Clothing items
  • Helmets

"Clearly, the community cares about our youth in care and another holiday will hopefully bring some happiness to these children despite their circumstances," said Jennifer West, Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit board member.

Thank you to event chair Stacey Burns and everyone who participated in the holiday gift drive.

Happy holidays to all!

Quilt Raffle Fundraiser Report

On Monday, December 11, 2017, Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit conducted the drawing for the Guardian ad Litem Quilt Raffle Fundraiser. This novel event, culminating with the drawing held at Starbucks on Thomasville Road in Tallahassee, gave people a chance to win a beautiful, handmade quilt in exchange for a twenty dollar donation.

Congratulations to Jan Davis, the lucky winner randomly selected from twenty-three entries. A volunteer guardian ad litem for the past seven years, Davis is now the proud owner of the quilt — "Tied Together to Help the Community" — a 2014 volunteer collaboration by employees with the Florida Office of the Attorney General.

Measuring seventy by eighty-seven inches, the quilt consists of over 175 ties contributed by the employees and was designed and constructed by four of them. The goal of creating the quilt was to raise funds for a worthy cause. The raffle raised $460 for our program.

Thank you to the Florida Office of the Attorney General, event chair Jennifer West and everyone who donated!

Quilt

Three individuals who helped produce the quilt joined by Attorney General of Florida Pam Bondi (right) standing in front of "Tied Together to Help the Community".

New Foundation Logo

Following its recent renaming, Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit now has a new logo to match. Thanks to the efforts of board member Lilianna Murphy, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association has allowed the foundation to use a customized version of their logotype. It has replaced the CAII branding on our Foundation page and website sidebar.

In addition, the logo is available to download in three formats and sizes suitable for use on web pages and in small documents printed on home or office printers. The downloads, samples and details on requesting tailor-made versions are available on the foundation's logo page.

Please note that the logo may only be used on official materials produced or sanctioned by the foundation's board.

GAL Guardian ad Litem For Children, Guardian ad Litem Foundation Second Circuit