The Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office is the best way to represent the legal interests of Florida’s most vulnerable children, the abused, abandoned and neglected based on data and evidence. Florida law requires the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office 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 are the only agency on the child’s case who focuses only on the child and represents the child’s legal interests in court and their social needs in the community.
Every child appointed to the Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office is assigned a Guardian ad Litem Attorney.
The Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office uses a multi-disciplinary team approach to represent children using a Guardian ad Litem Attorney, a child welfare professional, and hopefully a trained volunteer or pro bono attorney from the child’s community. The Office’s multi-disciplinary team model has been recognized as best practice in child representation since 1993 and is the recommended practice 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 of Florida’s abused, abandoned, and neglected children.
The Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office has more than 180 attorneys on staff and hundreds of pro-bono attorneys throughout Florida who volunteer their services. In 2022, we served more than 36,000 children in Florida and had more than 11,000 volunteers.
We believe the ability to shape a young life profoundly affects our collective future. We train and support attorneys, volunteers and child welfare professionals to be caring, dedicated advocates and mentors for Florida’s most vulnerable children during this critical, traumatic 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 the child. Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office representation is an integral part of a child’s protection. When a judge appoints the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office to an abused, neglected, or abandoned child, the child gets:
The benefit of a MULTI-DISCIPLINARY TEAM that always includes a Guardian ad Litem Attorney, child welfare professional, and hopefully a trained volunteer or pro bono attorney from the child’s community.
REPRESENTATION of the child’s legal interests.
SUPPORT from a trained volunteer or staff member 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 Foundation’s public-private partnerships.
The Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office 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, medical and mental health needs. The Statewide 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.