Alan Abramowitz Reappointed as Executive Director of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office

  [Tallahassee, Florida] –  Lori Duarte-Roberts, Chairperson of the Florida Guardian ad Litem Foundation Board of Directors, announces Alan Abramowitz is reappointed by Governor Rick Scott as the Executive Director of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office.    Over 10,000 Floridians volunteer for the Guardian ad Litem Program, an organization whose mission is to advocate […]

Senate Bill 60 by Senator Bean – Children Obtaining Driver Licenses Subcommittee Hearing

Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services:  Wednesday, February 8th, 2:00—4:00 p.m.,  at 401 Senate Office Building. Senate Bill 60  – The Keys to Independence Bill will be heard in its second committee on February 8th at 2 PM.  There are six anticipated committee hearings in the Legislature regarding this important legislation. The members of […]

SB 60 on Children Obtaining Driver Licenses Unanimously Passes Committee

On January 23 the Senate Committee on Children, Families and Elder Affairs met to discuss Senate Bill 60.  They heard testimony from advocates and former foster youth from Youth SHINE.  The bill makes the “Keys to Independence”  pilot project permanent – paving the way for foster children to get their learner permits and drivers license.  The bill […]

Rep. Jennifer Sullivan and Sen. Aaron Bean sponsoring legislation to make The Florida Keys to Independence Act for foster children a permanent program

Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, R-Mount Dora, and Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, are sponsoring legislation this year to make The Florida Keys to Independence Act for foster  children a  permanent program. The Florida Keys to Independence Act was signed into law in 2014. It is targeted at youth in licensed foster care between the ages of […]

A Note of Appreciation for Legal Advocacy At Its Best

“As you may know, although I’ve been a judge for ten years, I’ve presided in Dependency court for a mere three months. Consequently, I come with vast exposure to the caliber of lawyer practicing in Miami, but somewhat limited experience in the Juvenile Division.  It’s from that context that I wanted to take the occasion […]

M.C. v. Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 6612173 (Fla. 3rd DCA)

This case was previously brought before the Third District Court of Appeal (Third DCA) and the court reversed termination of the Mother’s rights and directed the court to determine whether the evidence supported adjudication of dependency rather than termination. M.C. v. Department of Children and Families, 186 So. 3d 74 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016). On remand, without hearing any […]

In re J.H., 2016 WL 6777133 (Fla. 2nd DCA)

The Guardian ad Litem Program (GAL) appealed an order dismissing a dependency petition for two siblings while adjudicating the third sibling. The Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA) reversed dismissal of the two petitions finding the trial court failed to recognize the nexus between the severe abuse of Le.H. and the substantial risk of […]

In re N.L., 210 So. 3d 1288 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2016)

Father appealed an order adjudicating his child dependent. The Second District Court of Appeal reversed. The trial court found the child to be dependent as to Father solely based on Father’s failure to comply with a case plan for older children previously found dependent. No evidence was presented that the child was at “substantial risk of imminent abuse,abandonment […]

In re D.O., 210 So.3d 1242 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2016)

Father appealed the trial court’s order terminating supervision and jurisdiction over his child.  The Department of Children and Families (Department) and the Guardian ad Litem conceded error, specifically that Father was not given notice that the Department’s motion to terminate protective supervision would be heard at a previously scheduled review hearing. Three days before the scheduled […]

Volunteer Champion of Service Award Awarded to GAL Dorothy Binger

During the December 6, 2016 Florida Cabinet meeting, Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman awarded the Volunteer Champion of Service Award to Guardian ad Litem volunteer Dorothy Binger. The Champion of Service Award is Florida’s only statewide volunteer recognition.  The award recognizes a volunteer who demonstrates excellence in volunteerism and community service. “Ms. Dot” […]

Announcement of Attorney Awards for Excellence in Advocacy for Children with Special Needs

The Florida Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program announced today that 21 attorneys were named as winners of the Program’s award for Excellence in Advocacy for special needs children who have been abused or neglected.  Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director, made the announcement noting that these attorneys had distinguished themselves in the courtroom as champions for children. […]

I Could Not Say it Better than GAL Volunteer Alaina Machado.

As a Volunteer Guardian ad Litem I get all types of different questions. “Do you get paid?” I answer “No, all Guardians as Litem are actually volunteers.” “Oh… you do it because you need the volunteer hours for school?” Again my answer is no. The last and more common question is, “How can you  do […]

Great News in the First Circuit!

Recently the city of Pensacola and Pensacola’s Mayor Ashton J. Hayward, offered a proclamation that Tuesday October 18th was Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Swearing in Ceremony Day.  The Swearing in Ceremony was a great success and the First Circuit is grateful to the city of Pensacola and the GAL volunteers who have been sworn in […]

Participate in the Princess Place Preserve Run to Support the Florida Guardian ad Litem Foundation

The Florida Guardian ad Litem Foundation supports the work of over 10,000 GAL volunteers, staff and child welfare professionals in giving a voice in court to Florida’s abused, neglected and abandoned children.  The GAL Foundation provides training for GAL volunteers and helps to support the needs of foster children that are not provided by the […]

Don’t Forget to Register for the Fort Pierce Regional Volunteer Conference!

What: Fort Pierce Regional Volunteer Conference Where: Havert Fenn Center When: Friday, October 28th ***Registration closes Friday, October 14th “I would strongly encourage any Guardian ad Litem volunteer to attend the nearest regional conference to them. I found the regional conference conducted in Gainesville in September to be not only highly informative but also very […]

St. Petersburg’s Linda Zolper Wins Statewide Award from Guardian ad Litem Program for Advocacy for Children

[Tallahassee, Florida] – Linda Zolper is making a difference in the lives of children who have been abused, abandoned, and neglected as a Guardian ad Litem Program Volunteer and was recently named the Program’s 2016 Audrey Lincourt Schiebler Volunteer of the Year. The Guardian ad Litem Program (GAL) advocates for the best interests of children […]

Florida Guardian ad Litem Program Child Advocate Manager, Michael Harris Selected as a 2016 Angels in Adoption Honoree

  Congratulations to Michael Harris of the First Circuit for being recognized as a 2016 Angels in Adoption honoree  for the First Congressional District of Florida. Michael was nominated by Congressman Jeff Miller for his hard work and dedication to  the children he serves.   On Tuesday Michael was able to accept the award at a […]

Register for the Gainesville Regional Volunteer Conference

DON’T FORGET TO REGISTER! WHAT: Gainesville Regional Volunteer Conference WHERE: Best Western Gateway Grand, Gainesville, FL WHEN: Friday, September 23. **Registration closes Friday, September 9. The GAL Foundation is excited to announce Judge David Gooding will be presenting the Judges Perspective Workshop. Judge Gooding has been a huge advocate of the GAL Program and stated […]

Poem from a Sixth Circuit Volunteer

Unsung Heroes Everyone knows the super heroes and the heroes of times past. History recounts many stories of heroes, stories that really last. Robin Hood comes to the rescue; soldiers defend us in great wars. We learn of fireman, police officers, films where the lion roars. But there is a group of quiet, silent, and […]

S.M. v. Department of Children and Families, 188 So.3d 982 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016)

Father appealed termination of his parental rights to T.H. The Fifth District Court of Appeal (Fifth DCA) affirmed termination. When T.H. was two years old, Father was found guilty by reason of insanity of homicide and involuntarily committed. He remained institutionalized almost continuously since then. T.H. was adjudicated dependent in 2011. Four years later, T.H. […]

B.B.S. v. Rodriguez-Murguia, 2016 WL 2744994 (Fla. 4th DCA)

This case involves a child support matter and not a dependency matter but the issue in question could pertain to dependency matters. The appellants (the Children) appealed a trial court order dismissing their cause of action to determine maternity.   The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) reversed and remanded for further proceedings. The Children’s […]

M.D. v. State, 187 So.3d 1275 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016)

Father appealed termination of his parental rights which was based on abandonment. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) affirmed termination. Father was incarcerated at the time of the termination trial and had been incarcerated for the two years prior to the trial. Father testified at trial that the last time he saw his […]

In re Le.H., 2016 WL 3001283 (Fla. 2nd DCA)

Both the parents and the Guardian ad litem Program filed petitions for a writ of certiorari to review an order sheltering one child but denying to shelter his siblings. The Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA), denied the parents’ petition but granted the GAL’s petition and quashed the portion of the order denying to […]

2016 Disabilities Conference Videos Available for CLE Credit on the GAL Website

This year over 450 attorneys, judges and child welfare professionals attended the Third Florida Guardian ad Litem Program Disabilities Training Conference.  The keynote speakers were inspiring thought provoking and gave us all tools to use in helping the children we work with every day.  The workshops were wide ranging with presenters sharing their expertise in areas such […]

Kathryn Hochmuth Receives the GAL Impact Award – Named in Honor of Akerman LLP

The Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program announces the first recipient of the “Impact Award”named in honor of the national law firm, Akerman LLP. Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director of the Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program, announced today that the Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program honored, Pensacola-based Child’s Best Interest Attorney, Kathryn Hochmuth […]

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R.J. v. Florida Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 1039178 (Fla. 4th DCA)

R.J., the child at issue, appealed the trial court’s order granting his petition for dependency but denying placement in licensed care. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) reversed and remanded. R.J. filed a petition for dependency after his parents refused to allow him to return home following discharge from a residential psychiatric center. […]

Guardian ad Litem Program v. M.H., 184 So.3d 1253 (Fla. 4th DCA 2016)

The Guardian ad Litem program appealed denial of termination of parental rights. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) reversed and remanded for further proceedings. The specific question at issue before the Fourth DCA was whether proof of a guilty plea or conviction in a criminal proceeding was required for termination of parental rights […]

R.W. v. Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 1239878 (Fla. 3rd DCA)

Mother appealed termination of her parental rights. The Third District Court of Appeal (Third DCA) affirmed termination. The Third DCA found merit in only one of the issues mother raised on appeal, her claim that the trial court’s participation in the questioning of witnesses at the adjudication hearing constituted an abandonment of neutrality and impartiality. […]

M.C. v. Department of Children and Families, 2016 WL 717694 (Fla. 3rd DCA)

Mother appealed termination of her parental rights under § 39.806(1)(f). The Third District Court of Appeal (Third DCA) reversed termination. The underlying petition for termination of Mother’s rights alleged that Mother took E.C. to the hospital with “second degree, caustic, liquid burns” on his back, buttocks, right shoulder and right side of his body. Mother […]