The Florida Guardian ad Litem Office is the best way to represent the legal interests of Florida’s most vulnerable children, the abused, abandoned and neglected. Florida law requires Guardian ad Litem to represent Florida’s children caught in the complex foster care system every day through no fault of their own. They face a world of temporary living situations and intervening professionals with a high turnover rate. We focus only on the child and represent the child’s legal needs in the courtroom and their social needs in the community.
The Guardian ad Litem Office uses a multi-disciplinary team approach to represent children using attorneys, trained volunteers, and certified Child Advocate Managers. The Office’s multi-disciplinary team model has been recognized as a best practice in child representation since 1993 and is recommended by many advocacy organizations, including the Quality Improvement Center on the Representation of Children in the Child Welfare System. The unique perspective and expertise of each multi-disciplinary team member complement the others. All are critical in the representation and advocating of the children.
The Florida Guardian ad Litem Office has more than 200 attorneys on staff and over 800 pro-bono attorneys who volunteer their services. In 2021, we served more than 37,000 children and had more than 13,000 volunteers.
We believe the ability to shape a young life profoundly affects our collective future. We train and support our volunteers, attorneys, and child welfare professionals to be caring, dedicated advocates and mentors for Florida’s most vulnerable children during this critical time in their lives.
When a child is removed from their home, the judge stands in the parent’s shoes and has a duty to protect them. Guardian ad Litem representation is an integral part of a child’s protection. When a judge appoints the Florida Guardian ad Litem Office to an abused, neglected, or abandoned child, the child gets:
The benefit of a MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TEAM team that includes an attorney, a trained volunteer, and a child advocate manager certified by the Florida Board of Certification.
REPRESENTATION of the child’s legal interests.
SUPPORT from a trained volunteer who is often the only safe and stable adult throughout the child’s case.
A link to the child’s COMMUNITY and support from the Guardian ad Litem public-private partnerships.
The Guardian ad Litem multi-disciplinary team assures the child is not lost in the over-burdened legal system or languishes in inappropriate foster placements. The multi-disciplinary team reduces court delays and legal continuances. The child’s team builds relationships and represents the child in dependency court, advocating for the child’s best interests. We help children with legal proceedings, family visitations, educational support, and medical and mental health needs. The Guardian ad Litem Office stays with each child until their case is closed and they are placed in a safe, loving, and permanent home.
To further understand our model of representation in Florida, which is grounded in the principles of guardianship representation and fiduciary relationships, please review this 2021 Law Review published by Stetson University College of Law.