The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program is reaching out to communities where volunteers are most needed to give a voice to children in the state dependency system.
Starting this week, billboards with the message “What’s Your Superpower? Become a Guardian ad Litem” will go up in Jacksonville, Miami, West Palm Beach and Broward, Pasco and Seminole Counties.
The billboards depict a GAL volunteer holding a child by the hand – both wearing capes – and the words “I Am for the Child.”
“We want people to know that through the GAL program, vulnerable children receive needed help through their volunteering,” said Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton. The billboard will run in Hager’s district – where the child-welfare system has been badly strained by the opioid epidemic – starting August 28th.
“People who answer the call will feel like super-heroes,” said state Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach and a regular sponsor of GAL-related legislation. The billboard will run in his district starting August 7th.
When children are removed from their homes for safety reasons, a court hearing is held and ideally, a GAL volunteer is assigned to represent them as soon as possible. The first billboards are going up in communities where the need for GAL volunteers is greatest.
State Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, praised GAL volunteers for their “everyday hero” roles in helping children recover from a difficult start in life. He and his wife, Micheline, have five children, two of whom are adopted – and Baxley says a GAL volunteer saved his son’s life.
“We have a special responsibility to give dependent children a voice,” said Baxley, whose district will host a slightly different billboard starting August 7th.
More billboards are expected.
Statewide, the billboards will run in 12 communities over the next two months, thanks to a grant from the National Association of Court Appointed Special Advocates and the generosity of Clear Channel. The Guardian ad Litem program also is working with Lamar Advertising and Outfront Media to spread the billboards to more parts of Florida.
Statewide Guardian ad Litem Executive Director Alan Abramowitz praised the collaboration as exactly the sort of team approach needed to help vulnerable kids.
The billboards will run from August 7th through October 7th in these locations:
• 4th Circuit – Jacksonville (I-95 South of I-10)
• 5th Circuit –Ocala (US 19/98 North of CO 490)
• 6th Circuit – Pasco (US 41 South of Lake Patience)
• 8th Circuit – Gainesville (US 90 East of SR228)
• 11th Circuit – Miami (1591 N. Flagler North of Campbell)
• 11th Circuit – Miami (US 1 South of SW 218th Street)
• 18th Circuit – Seminole/Brevard (I-95 North of Wickham Road)
• 18th Circuit – Seminole/Brevard (US1 North of SR 528 Top)
Other billboards will run as follows:
• 15th Circuit – West Palm Beach (Okeechobee Blvd. West of PB Lakes) Aug. 28th – Sept. 28th
• 17th Circuit – Broward (I-595 East of University) Sept. 4th – Oct. 4th
• 8th Circuit – Gainesville (SR16 East of US 301) Aug. 28th – Sept. 28th
• 18th Circuit – Seminole/Brevard (US1 North of 528 F/N) Sept. 4th – Oct. 4th