[Tallahassee, Florida] – The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program has been awarded a $122,500 grant by the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association to recruit, screen and train more volunteers to become the voices of abused, abandoned and neglected children.
The grant award comes at a time of great need for Florida, with the opioid epidemic driving up the number of children coming into out-of-home care by 13.7 percent over the last 2 ½ years.
Although the GAL Program has more than 11,000 volunteers statewide, said Executive Director Alan Abramowitz, currently there are not enough to advocate for every Florida child who needs one.
“All the children in our dependency system deserve a caring Guardian ad Litem with the training and character to represent their best interests,” Abramowitz said.
The Statewide GAL Program is one of nearly 1,000 programs across the U.S that recruit, train and support 87,000 best-interest volunteers. These volunteers help ensure that children who have entered the court and child welfare systems receive needed services, have a say in determining their futures and, ultimately, find safe, permanent homes.
To that end, the National CASA Association distributes federal funds provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention at the U.S. Department of Justice, as authorized under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990. The grants come primarily from DOJ, but also from private corporations and foundations. Last year CASA awarded more than $4.6 million.
Eric Clark, CEO of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation, called the grant “an example of a public-private partnership at its best.”
To learn more about the Guardian ad Litem Program or become a volunteer, visit www.GuardianadLitem.org or call 1-866-341-1GAL.