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

with people around the table

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

[Pictured Kathryn Hochmuth (middle) receiving the Impact Award from Statewide GAL Legal Director Kelly Swartz(left) and Ackerman’s Director of Pro Bono Initiatives Whitley M. Untiedt (right).]

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

cute little girl putting a cross over impossible on blackboard

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

ric 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

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

signature bill

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 […]

Register Now for the Florida GAL Disabilities Training Conference!

Just boy with megaphone

Nationally recognized legal and policy expert Jonathan Martinis, Esq., Senior Director for Law and Policy at the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University is returning this year to the GAL Disabilities Training Conference as a keynote speaker.  Mr. Martinis has over 20 years’ experience representing and advocating for people with disabilities to ensure that they […]

Thank You Judge Layne Smith

Judge L. 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 2

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

deaf west

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

volunteer with kids

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

d moore 2

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

G.Spires Champion of Service Award 3.2.16

[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

child in court

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

traning jpeg

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

Honoring Sen. Nancy Detert 1-25-2016

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 […]