Groundbreaking Program Helping Foster Children Get Driver’s Licenses Made Permanent as SB 60/HB 217 Passes Florida Legislature

[Tallahassee, Florida] – A pilot program helping youth in the child welfare system get driver’s licenses, was expanded and became permanent today with the passage of SB 60 and HB 217. Known as the “Keys to Independence Act,” the program assists youth with getting a learner’s permit or driver’s license, helps find driver education courses […]

Promoting Justice and Reducing Trauma, Florida Legislature passes HB 151 to Expand Use of Dogs in Court Proceedings

[Tallahassee, Florida] – Today the Legislature passed House Bill 151 by Representative Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford) and Senator Bill Montford (D-Tallahassee), authorizing judges to allow children in proceedings involving abuse and neglect and intellectually disabled persons to have therapy dogs and facility dogs present for court proceedings as a way to reduce trauma and facilitate testimony. […]

Groundbreaking Program Helping Foster Children Get Driver’s Licenses Made Permanent as SB 60 Passes House and Goes to Governor

  [Tallahassee, Florida] – A pilot program helping youth in the child welfare system get driver’s licenses, was expanded and became permanent today with the passage of SB 60 and HB 217.  Known as the “Keys to Independence Act,” the program assists youth with getting a learner’s permit or driver’s license, helps find driver education […]

Last Day for Early Registration Discount – GAL Disabilities Training Conference

Don’t miss out on this year’s Disabilities Training Conference.  We have an amazing schedule of speakers to inspire you and to share their expertise with you.  Come to learn, come to network, come to prepare yourself to better represent the needs of abused, neglected and abandoned children with disabilities. To find out more and register visit 

Justice’s Best Friend Act passed the House today

Testifying in court can be scary. For children in abuse, abandonment, and neglect cases, it can sometimes also be traumatizing. These dogs can reduce traumatization and facilitate the administration of justice. Around the state, dogs are successfully used in a variety of cases. The GAL believes the law should be amended to reflect current practice, […]

Senate Unanimously Supports Driver’s Licenses for Children

Thursday, the bill (SB 60) sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, that makes permanent a pilot project giving foster youth the opportunity to get driver’s licenses was passed unanimously by the Florida Senate. The bill makes the 2014 pilot program that reimburses fosters parents or children for driver’s education, licenses fees, and insurance permanent. Senator Bean […]

Angela Orkin Dedication Award Given to Dennis Moore, General Counsel

Throughout his tenure Dennis has demonstrated his commitment to the Program’s success, working tirelessly to assist the Program to achieve its mission. This year, Dennis was integral in ensuring legislation was passed that significantly impacts the lives of many of Florida’s dependent children – The Child’s Best Hope Act.  Dennis drafted legislation, met with legislators, […]

2017 Guardian ad Litem Annual Report Now Available

This year, the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program Annual Report – Making the Impossible Possible:  Stories of Advocacy, is a look into the lives of our GAL volunteers, staff and attorneys. Sometimes the best way to understand an idea or a point of view is through story telling.  Whether it is a fable that teaches […]

Video: The Effects of Exposure to Domestic Violence on Babies and Children

This video, The Effects of Exposure to Domestic Violence on Babies and Children, produced by the 11th Circuit (Miami) and featuring Judge Carroll Kelly and Judge Orlando Prescott, provides valuable information about the severe and lasting negative impact that exposure to domestic violence has on babies and children. This video also teaches that babies and children […]

Available Now – GAL Volunteer Pre-Service Training Course with Interpreters and Closed Captioning

The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program is proud to announce a new series of guardian ad litem volunteer pre-service training videos – GAL Volunteer Training Course with Interpreters and Closed Captioning for the hearing impaired community.    These videos are available as a resource for those potential GAL volunteers who have a hearing impairment and would […]

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 […]

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 […]

Hanging of the Hands Presented by Florida Guardian ad Litem Program

Children’s Week is excited to announce the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program is a proud partner of the 2017 Hanging of the Hands activity during Children’s Week! The annual Hanging of the Hands is a magical activity taking place Sunday, March 26 from Noon to 4 p.m. in the State Capitol Rotunda. Tens of thousands of brightly […]

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 […]

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 […]

3rd Circuit GAL Program

An excellent article from the 3rd Circuit which recently ran in the Suwannee Democrat.  Great job ! Third Circuit Florida GAL Program

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 […]

Sarah Bujold selected for the UM School of Law Stuart A. Markus Award

The Stuart A. Markus Award recognizes an individual student each year for outstanding work in one of the School of Law’s in-house clinics. The winner is selected by vote of the in-house, live-client clinic directors.  The first award went to Bethany Bandstra.  And last year went to Lindsay MacDonald. This year the Markus Award went […]

Honorary Guardians ad Litem – Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and Dorothy Bradshaw

A Guardian ad Litem is a very special and dedicated individual.  Guardians ad Litem are lead by their hearts, directed by their passion for children, and informed by their life experiences and knowledge of the children they represent.  Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and his wife Dorothy embody the dedication and heart we celebrate at the Guardian […]

Governor Rick Scott Appoints Four to Children and Youth Cabinet

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott announced three appointments and one reappointment to the Children and Youth Cabinet. Nelson Diaz, 38, of Miami, is the immediate past president and current board member of Kristi House Child Advocacy Center and was the 2014 recipient of the National Children’s Alliance highest award for volunteer service, the […]

Legislative Updates

HB 590 – House Bill 590 was the Program’s initiative called the Child’s Best Hope Act.  Currently, in Chapter 63 proceedings when a dependent child is surrendered to an adoption entity, the court is only permitted to determine whether the placement was fit and proper.  The bill adds the best interests of the child to […]

Have You Registered for the GAL Disabilities Training Conference?

Michael Arden – an actor, singer, composer and stage director is coming to the GAL Disabilities Training Conference are you registered? In addition to directing, acting in movies and on Broadway, Michael has been in television shows including The Good Wife, Grey’s Anatomy, Numb3rs, Anger Management, and Kings.  He also guest starred in episodes of […]

Governor Scott Signs the Child’s Best Hope Law – Supportive Words from the Advocacy Community

On Wednesday, March 23, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the Child’s Best Hope Act into law.  By signing this bill, Governor Scott is ensuring the best interests of Florida’s most vulnerable children is paramount.  The new law allows judges to make decisions regarding adoption intervention using the child’s best interest standard. The Problem – The […]