GAL Completed the Youth Advocacy Grant
[Tallahassee, Florida] – The Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program has successfully completed a national youth advocacy grant aimed at improving outcomes for the state’s abused, abandoned and neglected children.
Thanks to the $37,000 grant from the National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association, the GAL Program trained 42 new volunteers and 82 GAL staff and current volunteers.
According to Sonia Valladares, GAL’s Statewide Director of Organizational Outreach & Training, of the youth served by a grant-related volunteer:
• 99.8% did not have an arrest or delinquent offense during the grant period;
• 99.7% were not committed to a juvenile detention facility;
• 100% stayed out of the adult prison system; and
• 100% did not receive another sentence.
This completes the fourth year GAL has received a Youth Advocacy Grant from the National CASA Association, which distributes funds from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, in order to increase the number of maltreated children who are assigned a GAL volunteer to advocate for their best interests.
GAL Executive Director Alan Abramowitz said the grant also facilitated 4 trainings impacting 7 rural counties for the program’s Fostering Futures Training Initiative.
“The grant focuses on advocacy and mentoring for older youth,” Abramowitz said. “It provides them with volunteers specifically trained to serve as the one significant adult relationship they need to help them transition to adulthood.”
Kristen Solomon, GAL’s Regional Director for South Florida, points to Juan, who came into foster care at age 12. His family members were in and out of jail and his siblings shot in the neighborhood’s gang violence. But Juan’s GAL volunteer was determined to see him succeed, and he did – going from a 2.0 GPA to a 3.4 and winning a scholarship to an NCAA Division I football program. He was adopted by his high school coach and his wife.
“His Guardian ad Litem volunteer is still very close and is still one of his biggest cheerleaders,” Solomon said. “Love and determination were the magic ingredients.”
To learn more about the Guardian ad Litem Program or to become a volunteer, visit www.GuardianadLitem.org or call 1-866-341-1GAL.