Thank You Judge Layne Smith

Last night, over 35 Guardian ad Litem volunteers and staff (almost standing room only) attended a continuing education session with Judge Layne Smith, our guest presenter.  Judge Smith shared information about the court testimony process and criteria.  Staff and volunteers were informed about what to expect in court as a witness, how to prepare for […]

Tibet is Coming to the GAL Disabilities Conference

Tibet the Courthouse Dog, a program of Voices for Children of Tampa Bay, will take the stage with presenters from the GAL Program and Youth and Family Alternatives, Inc. to explain how a professionally trained facility dog can help in achieving safety and permanency for a child who has experienced severe trauma and has sensory […]

Broadway’s Spring Awakening at the GAL Disabilities Training Conference

Excited about the GAL Disabilities Training Conference in April?  So are we!  Lead actors from the Broadway production of Spring Awakening will join the Guardian ad Litem Disabilities Conference to inspire us through their experiences of performing on Broadway and bringing musical theatre to the deaf community. The actors will perform songs from  Spring Awakening, […]

Great News for Child Best Hope Advocates

Today we were validated in pursuing what we call the “Child Best Hope” Act.  Although sadly we did not prevail in an adoption intervention case for a child, the court specifically mentions that the policy concerns are being addressed by SB 590.  My prayers and thoughts go out to J.R., the child involved in the […]

Legislative Update

After what seems to have been a long few weeks, I wanted to share with you where we landed. In Budget Conference, both the Senate and the House agreed to additionally fund approximately $1 million for out-of-home care, and approximately $1.4 million for in-home care (in cases where children are 3 years or younger). That […]

Registration Now Open for GAL Conference

Registration is now open for the 2016 Guardian ad Litem Disabilities Training Conference The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program  invites you to join us at the 2016 Disabilities Training Conference: A Voice Heard – 10,000 Strong, to be held April 28-29, 2016 at the JW Marriott, Grande Lakes Orlando. This is the third year for […]

Deborah Moore appointed to the National CASA Suburban Leadership Council

Congratulations to Circuit Director, Deborah Moore on her appointment to the National CASA Suburban Leadership Council. As you know, National CASA supports the mission of 949 CASA and GAL programs in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Deborah is a committed child welfare advocate with an immense amount of experience, determination and heart.  The […]

GAL Volunteer Gale Spires Honored with the Champion of Service Award

[Tallahassee, Florida] – During the March 2, 2016 Florida Cabinet meeting, Governor Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida CEO Chester Spellman awarded the Champion of Service Award to Guardian ad Litem volunteer Gale Spires. The Champion of Service Award is Florida’s only statewide volunteer recognition.  The award recognizes a volunteer who demonstrates excellence in volunteerism and […]

Representative Ben Albritton Champion for Children in Foster Care

Representative Ben Albritton (R – Bartow) has been a terrific champion of foster youth and foster parents.  In the past, he sponsored several bills that became law to improve the lives of children and youth who have been removed from their homes.  This included the normalcy bill which later became Federal law and the Keys […]

Legislative Update – Budget Conference

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 […]

Preventing Another “Phoebe” Tragedy – Letter from a GAL

A Guardian ad Litem Volunteer asks for help from the community to ensure that children have someone to be their “voice” We recently marked the one year anniversary of the horrific tragedy in which a little girl named Phoebe was thrown off the Skyway Bridge by her father. This unspeakable act has touched the hearts […]

Legislative Update – Budget

Team GAL: The 60 day Legislative Session comes to a close on March 11, 2016.  We are halfway through week 6 of session and I wanted to give you a quick update.  We continue to be very optimistic! To recap, in the initial budget, the Senate included approximately $1 million for out-of-home care and $1.4 […]

Legislative Update

As we close out the 4th week of the legislative session, I wanted to update you on our efforts. As you will recall, we submitted 5 legislative budget requests to the Legislature for consideration.  They pertained to in and out of home care, certification and salary adjustments.  Budgets were initially released last week and we […]

Florida GAL Appointments to National CASA Legal and Advocacy Committee

Congratulations to Kelly Swartz, Guardian ad Litem Director of Legal Services and Liz Damski, Guardian ad Litem Special Counsel, on their appointment to the National CASA Association Legal and Advocacy Committee.  National CASA supports the mission of 949 CASA/GAL programs in 49 states and the District of Columbia.  Through collaboration with GAL programs across the […]

Child’s Best Hope Act – Update

The latest update is great news.  We are almost at the end of the legislative process. We have completed the process in the Senate on the “Adoption Intervention Bill (SB 590) and it should go over to the House in messages. House Bill 673 is on the agenda on the Health and Human Services Committee […]

Medicaid Training Posted

Medicaid training provided by Nancy Wright, Attorney, Law Office of Nancy E. Wright.  In practice since 1980,  Nancy Wright’s legal practice is focused on rights of individuals receiving Medicaid and Medicaid Waiver services, with emphasis on clients with developmental disabilities or  complex medical conditions.  In this video training Nancy Wright explains the benefits available to […]

The Nancy C. Detert Children’s Champion Award Presented to Senator Detert at Children’s Week

Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program, Christina Spudeas of Florida’s Children First, and Florida Youth Shine State Chair Chelsea Bramblett recognized Senator Nancy Detert  with the Nancy C. Detert Children’s Champion Award during the Florida’s Children’s Week kickoff dinner. Senator Nancy C. Detert (R Venice) was named the first recipient […]

GAL Program Partners in “Hanging of Hands”

This week is Florida’s Children’s Week celebrated at the State Capitol. Children’s Week is “a special annual celebration filled with joyful singing voices of young children, the colorful “Hanging of Hands”, and the dedication of thousands of child advocates across Florida, captures the true spirit and commitment Florida has made to our children and youth. […]

Volunteer of the Year – Randy Olson

Randy Olson is not the person you will ask, “Will you do that?” He’s the person who has done that and is on to the next thing! There is little Randy won’t do for the GAL Program. Randy never says no…there is no job too big or too small! He isn’t afraid to tackle a […]

Guardian ad Litem Legislative Session Update (Week 3)

As we kicked off Children’s Week in Tallahassee yesterday, it seemed like a great time for a legislative update.  Thank you for your continued support of the Guardian ad Litem Program! Today marks the 3rd week of the 2016 Legislative session and it has proven very busy.  I presented Guardian ad Litem’s budget requests to […]

Update: Child’s Best Hope Act

On January 13, 2016, the House Subcommittee on Children, Families & Seniors heard testimony from Heather Rosenberg, the president of the Tallahassee Area Foster and Adoptive Parent Association.  Heather is also an adoptive parent with her own story to tell about the importance of the court considering the best interests of the child.  Heather spoke […]

Note from Alan Abramowitz – First Day of 2016 Legislative Session

All GAL staff, volunteers and supporters: Today marks the first day of the 2016 Legislative Session.  We are excited Guardian ad Litem’s priorities will be discussed, during this 60 day process. From a budgetary standpoint, GAL has requested $1.1 million to account for the increased number of children coming into care, $1.36 million for in-home […]

Update on “Child’s Best Hope Act”

Child’s Best Hope Advocates: Update on “Child’s Best Hope Act”.    Over the holidays not much happened. These bills will be heard soon in the Senate Judiciary Committee and in the House Children Families and Seniors subcommittee.  The two bills are still different however we are working to get them identical.  It is very early in […]

Tluzek v. Tluzek, 2015 WL 7017418 (Fla. 5th DCA)

Former wife appealed a final judgment of dissolution. Former Wife argued that it was reversible error to order that their monthly adoption subsidy should be offset against Former Husband’s child support obligations. The Fifth District Court of Appeals (Fifth DCA) found that an adoption subsidy provided by the State of Florida to the parents of […]

C.S. v. Department of Children and Families, 2015 WL 7007794 (Fla. 4th DCA)

Father appealed termination of his parental rights on the grounds of “egregious conduct.” The Fourth District Court of Appeals (Fourth DCA) found that the life and death consequences of Father’s lack of providing proper medical care supported a finding that his conduct was egregious as defined by Florida Statute § 39.806(1)(f). The child at issue […]

T.B. v. Department of Children and Families, 2015 WL 6496316 (Fla. 4th DCA)

Father appealed an order which placed his children in a permanent guardianship with a relative; terminated supervision by the Department of Children and Families; and modified Father’s visitation with the children to comport with the relative’s planned move out of state. The Fourth District Court of Appeals (Fourth DCA) reversed the order finding that it […]

In re E.D., 2015 WL 9487592 (Fla. 2d DCA)

In affirming the trial court’s final judgment that terminated the mother’s parental rights to her four children, the Second District Court of Appeal emphasized the importance of trial courts adhering to specific time frames in cases involving termination of parental rights.  In this case, the trial court did not render its final termination of parental […]

New 6 hour training posted on Transitioning Youth with Developmental Disabilities

Bridging the Gap for Transitioning Youth with Developmental Disabilities: From Foster Care to Adulthood.  In this training you will learn about Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment program (EPSDT) versus Waiver; Securing Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) Services for Transitioning Youth;  Social Security Administration and Master Trust Accounts (MTAs); and Effective Transition Planning (Court, Medical, […]

Amy Erven Presented with the Angela Orkin Dedication Award

The Angela Orkin Dedication Award is  awarded annually to one GAL Program State Office employee who is dedicated to the mission of the GAL Program, as was Angela. It is an employee who is personable, organized, a team builder, conscientious, innovative, and hard-working.  This year’s recipient, Amy Erven embodies all of qualities of the Angela […]

Norm is Jumping out of an Airplane for Florida’s GAL Program!

Norm Bungard, a 7 Year Guardian ad Litem , wants to ensure more abused and neglected children have the tools they need to succeed. With over 3,000 children in care at any given time in Pinellas and Pasco Counties, he knows all too well that meeting these complex needs is costly. That is why Norm […]

GAL Program in Broward discusses what “I am for the Child” means to them

Kasandra Philips, Circuit Director of the Guardian ad Litem Program discusses the importance of the GAL Program in this article   Monique Damiano, a guardian since May 2014, says,  “I think we have great opportunities to make differences. It just takes a little bit of time and caring and it’s something the child will never forget.”  […]

The Child’s Best Hope Act – Committee Passes Bill Unanimously

Yesterday was an important day for Florida’s abused, neglected and abandoned children and those that care for, advocate and love these children.  The Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee heard public comment regarding Senate Bill 590 which is being sponsored by Senator Nancy Detert and championed by the Guardian ad Litem Program.  The committee […]

Lorraine Donovan-Lepanto Awarded GAL Leadership Award

An essential element of a great Guardian ad Litem team, and therefore great advocacy for our children, is an excellent leader. Circuit 2 supervising attorney Lorraine Donovan-Lepanto fulfills that role every day. With her guidance and support our legal team and staff are able to provide quality, effective advocacy for the children we serve.   […]

A.D. v. Department of Children and Families, 2015 WL 5163712 (Fla. 5th DCA)

Father appealed the termination of his parental rights based on abandonment. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal (Fifth DCA) reversed the termination finding the record did not support a finding of abandonment and that the evidence did not rise to a level justifying termination. Florida Statute § 39.01 defines abandonment as “a situation in which […]

W.L. v. Department of Children and Families, 172 So.3d 562 (Fla 4th DCA 2015)

Mother appealed termination of her parental rights. The Fourth District Court of Appeal (Fourth DCA) vacated the order and remanded, without addressing Mother’s arguments, based on the trial court’s failure to recite a number of required factual findings and conclusions of law in its final written order. The Fourth DCA found that rather than issuing […]

An Interview Ashley Rhodes-Courter

Shorecrest’s Guardian ad Litem service club sits down with Ashley Rhodes-Courter before her talk at the school. Each year, Shorecrest Preparatory School collects gifts and necessities for children in the Guardian ad Litem program for the holidays