[Tallahassee] – Florida TaxWatch is honoring the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program with its prestigious for efficiency in government – for the second year in a row.
This year it’s for a partnership between the Program – which represents abused and neglected children in dependency court – and the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (FAWL), in which pro bono attorneys mentor teenage girls who are aging out of foster care. Known as “FAWL in Love with GAL,” the initiative kicked off in May with training that is continuing at law schools statewide.
FAWL member attorneys volunteer one hour monthly to mentor young women who are close to aging out of the child welfare system. The training covers such topics as mentoring and working with adolescents, issues facing youth in foster care and eliminating bias.
Currently, nearly 1,000 young Florida women face aging out of foster care without a permanent home.
“The opportunity to be positive role models for young women is perfect for our members,” said FAWL President Kyleen Hinkle. “They are high achievers who can help young women follow their dreams.”
Through meetings or visits to the mentor’s office, the foster youth are given the opportunity to get guidance, share their concerns and ask legal questions in a non-threatening environment. The volunteer mentor can identify both their legal and non-legal needs. The youth benefit from these relationships as studies show youth with mentors achieve higher educational, social and financial success.
Last year Guardian ad Litem won a Productivity Award for “Defending Best Interests,” which saved taxpayers $650,000 by recruiting pro bono appellate attorneys to write briefs in termination of parental rights cases.
“The Guardian ad Litem Program has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to saving the taxpayers money and serving the public good through pro bono initiatives,” TaxWatch CEO Dominic Calabro said.
“We believe in the power of volunteerism,” agreed Guardian ad Litem Executive Director Alan Abramowitz. “We try to create opportunities for people to use their strengths to help children.”
Upcoming “FAWL in Love with GAL” trainings will be held in Miami on Sept. 13, in Jacksonville on Sept. 27, and in Tallahassee on Oct. 4. For more information, please contact Thomasina Moore at Thomasina.Moore@gal.fl.gov or (850) 445-3497. To learn more about the Guardian ad Litem Program or to volunteer, visit GuardianAdLitem.org or call 1-866-341-1425.