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 will be an additional 44.5 positions. The completed budgets were released to both the Senate and House at 3:00 pm today. Both Chambers are expected to take a final vote this Friday – the last day of the legislative session.
Now the budget will be sent to Governor Scott for approval. The Governor is expected to veto some of the budget. As you know Governor Scott has always been an great advocate of the GAL Program. We have no reason to believe portions of the budget that effect the GAL Program will be vetoed or are in any jeopardy. However, not taking anything for granted, our team will continue to advocate for the GAL Program until the very end.
The GAL Program entered the legislative session with three major budget requests and were given two of the three. Unfortunately, the salary adjustments the GAL Program requested were not adopted this session. The GAL team advocated in every way possible to achieve salary adjustments on behalf of our Attorneys and Child Advocate Professionals, but in the end were not successful. Although it is encouraging that the GAL Program went farther in the process than we have before; it is a disappointing outcome. Last year, the GAL Program received no additional funding for any of our legislative budget requests.
The fact that we did not receive salary adjustments this legislative session in no way is a reflection of the selfless work you perform day in and day out. You make a real difference in children’s lives through hard work, determination, and incredible heart. I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this worthwhile program. This program is a success because of your dedication and passion. You have my commitment that the GAL team will continue to advocate for salary adjustments.
As the budget goes through final passage and is sent to Governor Scott, I will keep you updated.
Thank you for making the Guardian ad Litem Program what it is today!
Alan F. Abramowitz
Guardian ad Litem Program