GAL staff, volunteers and supporters:
As we get to the budget decisions by the legislature it becomes more obvious to me that the work each of you do in the field has brought the GAL Program a level of credibility that few organizations have. The public-partnership and our non-profits have impacted each legislature in their community. I want to start by saying thank you for the passion and dedication you give to children which fuels our program and our reputation with legislatures. The below update only focuses on the budget issues relating specifically to GAL.
The Budget Conference began on Friday and you will recall when we started, the Senate had included approximately $1 million for out of home care and $1.4 million for in-home care (in cases where children are 3 years or younger). The House had only included approximately $1 million for out of home care.
In my last update, I said we were working hard to bring home a victory! Well, I am delighted to share with you that over several budget conference meetings held throughout the weekend, the Senate held their position and the House concurred! So, now the Senate and House budget match and Guardian ad Litem was successfully given approximately $1.1 million for out of home care and approximately $1.4 million for in home care!
An added bonus is that Voices for Children in Miami has in the budget $300,000 non-recurring new money.
Although neither chamber included funding for training and certification, we are looking at other avenues to still pursue this for our staff.
Additionally, I do want to make you aware that the House has included salary adjustments in their budget for Program and Sr. Attorneys, as well as CAMS and Sr. CAMS. The Senate budget does not reflect any salary adjustments at this time. We are working tirelessly to advocate for our GAL team and now that programmatic allocations are complete, we turn our attention to focus solely on this issue. Procedurally, the time to address all salary adjustments is when conference committees complete their work and the process is turned over to the Appropriations Chairs of both Chambers. That time is drawing near and we are doing everything possible to position ourselves in the best manner possible.
I will keep you updated as the next 2 weeks come to a close – remember March 11 is the final day of the legislative session! Saying we are grateful for the funding we have been allocated by both the Senate and House is an absolute understatement. We have great partners in the Legislature and in Governor Scott! We can serve our children more effectively with these increases and are extremely appreciative of the support we have been given.
A big shout out to the team we have assembled this year to move these priorities through the legislative process! We have strategically utilized every resource available to us, and it has paid off! I’ll keep you informed as the coming days and last remaining weeks unfold.
Thank you for ALL you do!!