Giving, caring, protecting, advocating, and listening are some words that describe the spirit of the Guardian ad Litem Office. Each day, the Guardian ad Litem Office helps shape the future and creates hope for the children of Florida who have been neglected and abused. The work of our volunteers with the Guardian ad Litem Office on behalf of children is a pursuit of the heart. Floridians from every walk of life support their work. Many people in the community work tirelessly for Florida’s children. Without these community supporters, the work of the Florida Guardian ad Litem Office would be much more difficult.
The Guardian ad Litem Office has established the Honorary Guardian ad Litem for those select community leaders who have gone to great lengths to support the Office’s mission and goals. This page will give you a snapshot of the fine work of these individuals, each of whom deserves our gratitude for the contributions they have made in the many areas of child welfare services.
Rick Roth of West Palm Beach is the Florida State Representative member for the state’s 85th House district. His work on behalf of abused, abandoned, and neglected children in the state foster care system recognized him as an honorary member.
He has championed several measures to help children find permanent homes. When he took office, he made protecting vulnerable children one of his top priorities. In House District 85, Representative Roth is very supportive of Speak Up for Kids of Palm Beach County, the non-profit arm of the local Guardian ad Litem Circuit, which honored him at its gala earlier this month.
For the 2020 legislative session, Representative Roth sponsored House Bill 61, which would allow veterans and military service members to be eligible to receive adoption benefits when adopting children from the state’s child welfare system. He also sponsored House Bill 193, which provides additional childcare benefits for certain foster parents.
“As a state, we should be looking for ways to support people with loving homes who adopt and foster children,” Representative Roth said.
Tyler I. Sirois
Tyler I. Sirois of Merritt Island, a Florida State Representative for House District 51, including part of Brevard County. His leadership was key to the success of a measure to help abused and neglected children in dependency court.
Representative Sirois was the House sponsor of “Charting a Positive Path for the Future,” which streamlines communication-related to children and youth who have multiple court cases, sometimes known as “crossover kids.” Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law on April 26, 2019, and it became effective immediately.
“It is a moral imperative to care for the most vulnerable among us,” Representative Sirois stated. “Our laws should be a reflection of who we aspire to be.” Past Guardian ad Litem Executive Director Alan Abramowitz said the lawmaker, who was elected to his first term in 2018, “has now given the Guardian ad Litem Office the tools to ensure judges have all the information they need to make the best decision for a child. No first-year legislator has had a bigger impact on children’s issues than Representative Sirois.”
For children with dependency and delinquency cases, the new law requires the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) to notify the court and the parties in a dependency case of certain events, such as when the child is transferred from one DJJ facility to another. It also allows delinquency court judges to receive and consider information provided by the Guardian ad Litem Office and the child’s attorney ad litem if the child is under the jurisdiction of the dependency court. It allows a guardianship petition for a child in dependency court to be filed either where the child resides or in the county with jurisdiction over the dependency case.
“This legislation is already having an impact,” Abramowitz said. “We are working with DJJ and the Department of Children and Families to ensure that judges have the best possible information in making decisions about these vulnerable children.”
Tim Sadberry served as Staff Director for the Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice ever since the Guardian ad Litem Office was created. It is one of the most important committees that impact our budget and, thus, the advocacy that can be done for children by the Office. Since legislators have term limits, the staff of committees plays an important role in ensuring the policymakers understand the programs in their budget group and the impact of their funding decisions. Mr. Sadberry stands out as a person who has taken the time to learn about our Office, understand its importance, and through his commitment to professional excellence, given the Guardian ad Litem Office the opportunity to showcase its value to legislators who then championed our issues.
Since the start of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office, the Office has relied on Mr. Sadberry to inform us accurately of the state of the budget and keep policymakers informed. We are a small budget item in the state budget, and it would not be difficult to be an afterthought. Mr. Sadberry has always given the time necessary to understand all the issues impacting the Office’s representation of children and advised on the best ways to approach challenges. Mr. Sadberry understands that every dollar impacts an abused child having an advocate. He had always ensured that everyone knew the facts about the Office, especially the cost savings and the negative impact it would have on children in dependency court if policymakers did not have an accurate understanding of the Guardian ad Litem Office before they made their decisions. From difficult years when revenues were down to years when there were more resources for the Office, Mr. Sadberry has offered an even-handed analysis of budgetary issues, which has allowed us to better advocate for the needs of abused and neglected children. This has been critical to the Guardian ad Litem Office since the majority of our funding is for people who either directly represent children or who recruit and support volunteers who do. Small changes in the budget have significant impacts.
At the time, the Guardian ad Litem Office had over 10,000 child advocates who worked every day to make positive changes for Florida’s abused and neglected children. Some of these are volunteers making recommendations in court, others are community advocates working for more resources, and others provide education and awareness of the needs of Florida’s most vulnerable. Abused and neglected children need all of these people supporting them, and the Guardian ad Litem Office embraces and honors them all. Tim Sadberry is one of these people. The Guardian ad Litem Office has established the Honorary Guardian ad Litem for individuals whose work has furthered the Office’s mission to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children. We appreciate Mr. Sadberry’s dedication, his work to inform policymakers of issues affecting abused and neglected children, and the time and effort he has given, which have made a difference in the lives of thousands of children.
We, therefore, name Tim Sadberry an Honorary Guardian ad Litem.
Senator Aaron Bean
We have long considered Senator Aaron Bean an Honorary Guardian ad Litem because he boosts our Office everywhere he goes – including the Florida Legislature. But now, on the heels of him being named Guardian ad Litem 2018 Legislator of the Year, we made it official.
Senator Bean has sponsored a series of bills aimed at helping Guardian ad Litem serve Florida’s most vulnerable children, including:
- The Pro Bono Matters Act of 2018 encourages attorneys to represent special-needs children by paying the due process costs related to their cases.
- The Keys to Independence Act, which in 2017 made permanent a pilot program that helps foster children get their drivers licenses.
- The 2018 Incarcerated Parents Act aimed at speeding up the time children spend in foster care by helping their parents get the services needed to reunify with them.
- Senator Bean also helped fund “Go the Extra Mile,” which reimburses Guardian ad Litem volunteers – many of whom are retired – who travel outside their home counties to continue serving the children they represent in dependency court. And he sponsored a bill that allowed the Guardian ad Litem Foundation to continue.
“Senator Bean championed our proposals for not one but two legislative sessions,” said past Guardian ad Litem Executive Director Alan Abramowitz.
Known for his sunny disposition, Senator Bean is much loved by the Guardian ad Litem staff and volunteers of the Fourth Judicial Circuit, who serve abused, abandoned, and neglected children in Clay, Duval, and Nassau counties. Guardian ad Litem Circuit Director Vanessa Byerly said Bean’s influence could be felt throughout the area. “He’s helped thousands of children and volunteers,” she said.
Secretary Mike Carroll
Alan Abramowitz, past Executive Director of the Guardian ad Litem Office, said, “It may seem obvious that someone leading the Department of Children and Families would be honored for his work on behalf of children, but Mike Carroll’s title only tells part of the story – his passion for helping children goes far beyond his job.” Many people do not know Carroll served as a foster parent and an adoptive parent. His first-hand understanding of the needs of children in foster care made him an invaluable partner for the Guardian ad Litem Office, to whom he has provided guidance, support, and advocacy on behalf of children. Carroll established policies allowing DCF employees to become a Guardian ad Litem when no direct conflict exists and has supported legislative initiatives championed by the Office. In addition, he embraced programs to better the lives of children of all ages, from supporting early childhood courts to helping establish the Keys to Independence Program, which helps teens overcome barriers to getting drivers licenses.
“Secretary Carroll inspires all of us to treat every child as if they were our own, doing everything we can to ensure the light that burns inside them is not diminished or extinguished. His commitment to improving the lives of our kids is authentic and unrelenting,” stated Jane Johnson, long-time guardian ad litem volunteer.
Carroll has spent his career helping children and families for over 25 years. When appointed as Secretary in 2014, Carroll committed to working each day so that every Florida child could live in a healthy and safe home. Abramowitz said Carroll’s dedication to children is evident to all who work with him, “The work Mike does is a pursuit of the heart. The children of Florida and Guardian ad Litem Office, thank you.” Congratulations to Mike Carroll on becoming an Honorary Guardian ad Litem.
Judge Daniel Dawson
Judge Dawson’s dedication to the children and families in Florida is apparent to all who have met him. His work with children and support of the mission of the Guardian ad Litem Office made him a perfect Honorary Guardian ad Litem. He has worked to better the lives of children through his work on the Florida Bar Juvenile Rules Committee, the DJJ Statewide Advisory Group, the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention and Permanency Advisory Council, and the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice – and that is just to name a few. In addition, he has always been there when our attorneys or guardians ad litem needed training or support. The Guardian ad Litem Office even has a yearly employee award given in his name.
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and Dorothy Bradshaw
Sheriff Ric Bradshaw and his wife Dorothy embody the dedication and heart we celebrate at the Guardian ad Litem Office. Not only have Dorothy and Ric generously donated to the Guardian ad Litem Foundation through the Police Benevolent Association and created videos supporting the Office, but they have also been personally touched by the work of a guardian ad litem. They saw first-hand the important work of the Guardian ad Litem Office when their daughter and her husband adopted a son through the foster care system. As a result, Ric and Dorothy’s grandson is a happy and thriving child. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw leads the largest law enforcement agency in Palm Beach County. His wife Dorothy is a procurement professional and sits on the Speak Up! For Kids Board.
As busy as Sheriff Ric and his wife Dorothy are – they continually keep the Guardian ad Litem Office and the children involved in Florida’s dependency system in their hearts.
Thank you to our Honorary Guardians ad Litem – Sheriff Ric and Dorothy Bradshaw.
Paolo Annino – Glass Professor of Public Interest Law, Florida State University College of Law Public Interest Law Center
Paolo Annino is a committed and determined advocate for children and families. The Guardian ad Litem Office has turned to him many times to provide guidance, advice, and training for our attorneys and staff. His work in the courtroom includes advocacy for children with disabilities, and he is an expert in education law. In addition, he has worked on behalf of children in his work as the co-director of the Public Interest Law Center and Director of the Children’s Advocacy Clinic at Florida State University College of Law.
Paolo received his Master’s in Philosophy from Trinity University, his Juris Doctorate from Florida State University, and his Ph.D. in Legal Philosophy from Fordham University. He has served as the legal advisor to the State of Florida Human Rights Advocacy Commission and has practiced as a public defender and legal services advocacy. He has received many awards recognizing his dedication, including the “FSU Distinguished Scholar Award”; The Emil Gumpert Award” given by the American College of Trial Lawyers; and the “2010 Loren Warboys Unsung Hero” given by Youth Law Center, San Francisco, CA. for outstanding efforts on behalf of at-risk children and youth.
We are proud that Paolo Annino is an Honorary Guardian ad Litem, as he represents what is possible and what we can aspire to be on behalf of the most vulnerable among us.
State Representative Janet Adkins
In giving the award to Representative Adkins, past Executive Director Alan Abramowitz thanked her by acknowledging that Guardian ad Litem volunteers do not work alone. There are many people in the community who work tirelessly for Florida’s children; their work for children is also a pursuit of the heart. The Guardian ad Litem Office has established the title of Honorary Guardian ad Litem for those select state leaders who have gone to great lengths to support the Office’s mission and goals. Janet Adkins is recognized as one of these unique leaders who has been there for children.”
Representative Janet Adkins became the champion for the Regis Little Act. The Regis Little Act created a process to give protection to incapacitated youth with a guardian before aging out of foster care. As Representative Adkins stated during committee meetings for the new law, “What could be more important than protecting children with disabilities? When Regis Little died, we were left wondering if he had a guardian before he turned 18, could his life have been spared? Of course, we will never know the answer, but with the passage of the Regis Little Act to Protect Children with Special Needs, we are ensuring that children in need of a guardian have one in place before they turn 18 – giving these young adults an added protection during a very vulnerable time for them.”
Governor Rick Scott signed the Regis Little Act. He recognized Representative Adkins’ key role in the legislation that will help provide Florida’s young men and women with disabilities the tools to succeed as they transition into adulthood.
In addition to the legislation to protect children with disabilities in foster care, Representative Adkins also sponsored the law that removed the “R” word. The measure replaced “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability.” Representative Adkins is a champion for all children. The Guardian ad Litem Office recognizes her as an Honorary Guardian ad Litem for giving a voice to vulnerable youth as they reach adulthood through her tireless work and advocacy for the Regis Little Act to Protect Children with Special Needs.
Elaine Holt embodies what it means to be a true advocate. Elaine has been the go-to person for advice and direction for leaders in the 7th Circuit. She served on many committees and was always there to solve a problem – no matter how daunting.
She is not only an inspiration to many in her community. During her 60 years in Daytona Beach, Elaine has been the leading advocate for the mentally ill’s wide array of services. Elaine worked as head nurse of the secure mental-health ward at Halifax Medical Medical Center for 20 years. Since then, has been a dedicated and determined advocate for people of all ages who are experiencing mental illness challenges. Elaine served on the Northeast Florida State Hospital board and several other community boards. Throughout her career, Elaine has worked tirelessly to ensure those who have severe mental illness and their families are provided the services they need to live a productive and happy life.
Carol, as the Executive Director of Healthy Families Florida, retired after years of advocacy. Healthy Families Florida is a nationally accredited home visiting program for expectant parents and parents of newborns experiencing stressful life situations. The program improves childhood outcomes and increases family self-sufficiency by empowering parents through education and community support. Parents voluntarily participate in Healthy Families to learn how to recognize and respond to their babies’ changing developmental needs, use positive discipline techniques, cope with the day-to-day stress of parenting in healthy ways and set and achieve short- and long-term goals.
Carol’s work was about prevention. She is the face and voice of advocacy to empower families who want to do right by children to have the resources to be successful.
Thank you, Carol, for your advocacy on behalf of children and families throughout Florida.
Senator Galvano, the sponsor of the bill giving dependent children with certain disabilities an attorney, has worked tirelessly on behalf of Florida’s abused and neglected children. “Senator Galvano led the charge in protecting the vulnerable of the most vulnerable of Florida’s citizens,” said Alan Abramowitz, past Executive Director of the Guardian ad Litem Office. The Senator shares the Guardian ad Litem Office values of ensuring every child have a voice and children in need of protection have an advocate. Senator Galvano has been a determined supporter of the important work done through the Guardian ad Litem Office, and we look forward to working together to ensure safety and permanency for the most vulnerable of Florida’s citizens.
Thank you, Senator Galvano.
Judge David Gooding
Judge Gooding has embodied the mission and values of the Florida Guardian ad Litem Office throughout his career and continues to be an outspoken, tireless advocate for Florida’s abused and neglected children. His mission throughout his career has been to ensure children’s best interests are achieved in the dependency court system. Judge Gooding treated Guardian ad Litem volunteers with respect – making them feel appreciated and valued. He is also known for the extra time and effort he spends with children involved in the Juvenile Justice system. He knows that his decisions will have a lasting effect on the children in his courtroom.
Judge David Gooding was elected to the circuit court bench in 2002 and served as a member of the faculty for the Florida Conference for Circuit Court Judges Education Committee, as well as on several charitable organizations. A frequent speaker at educational conferences for judges and lawyers, he specializes in best practices for expediting adoptions.
On September 22, 2014, Judge Gooding swore in 26 new Guardian ad Litem volunteers. Then he was sworn in as an Honorary Guardian ad Litem himself. Judge Gooding has received numerous local, state, and national awards for his work on the bench as an advocate for children in the courts, specifically those children who have languished in foster care awaiting adoption. Judge Gooding was awarded the William E. Gladstone Award for his outstanding judicial leadership, streamlining the adoption process in Duval County, developing Family First Fridays to support timely adoptions, and his continuous commitment to improving the welfare of children in the dependency system.
Judge Gooding has also received:
- Mayor’s Victim Assistance Advisory Council Judicial Advocate Award.
- Guardian ad litem Judge’s Award for Duval County
- United States Department of Health and Human Services Adoption Excellence Award.
- Florida Adoption Council Award of Excellence
- Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute Angel in Adoption
Thank you, Judge Gooding, for your leadership, hard work, and dedication.
Representative Charles McBurney
State Representative Charles McBurney of Jacksonville was named by the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office as an Honorary Guardian ad Litem for his commitment to advocacy for abused and neglected children in Florida.
In announcing the award, past Guardian ad Litem Executive Director, Alan Abramowitz, noted that Representative McBurney had shown his dedication to Florida’s Guardian ad Litem Office through his leadership as chairman of the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee and Chair of the Budget Conference Committee on Criminal and Civil Justice, where he successfully championed increased funding for the Guardian ad Litem Office during two legislative sessions.
Representative McBurney consistently promoted the expansion of the Guardian ad Litem Office as we strive to reach the goal that every one of Florida’s dependent children be represented.
Representative McBurney was an advocate for the expansion of small business opportunities and improving Pre-K to higher education.
When presented with the award, Representative McBurney said, “I am honored to stand with more than 9,000 Floridians who give their time and their hearts to advance the best interests of abused children. The Guardian ad Litem Office is a great example of a public-private partnership that makes a difference for kids in Florida.”
Wansley Walters is a nationally recognized leader in juvenile justice. She pioneered juvenile justice services in Miami-Dade County from 1995 until Governor Rick Scott appointed her to lead the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) in January 2011. During her tenure, Miami-Dade had the lowest youth incarceration rate in the state and boasted one of Florida’s lowest juvenile crime rates. As head of DJJ, Secretary Walters leads the state agency responsible for serving youth and communities throughout Florida. In October 2012, she launched the Roadmap to System Excellence, a comprehensive initiative to reform juvenile justice in Florida strategically. The Roadmap’s objective was to make sure the right youth receive the right service at the right time, continuing the state’s downward trend in juvenile delinquency. In November 2012, she was a 2012 Juvenile Justice Without Borders International Award presented by the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) in London. Her impact on children in dependency has kept many children out of the criminal justice system by passing laws that were supportive of prevention services and civil citation instead of arrest and criminal records.
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz has made Florida’s children and the Guardian ad Litem Office a priority. Don Gaetz followed through with his promise to the people of Florida to make children a priority, including rewriting Florida’s child welfare statutes and advocating for funding for the Guardian ad Litem Office. He supported the Guardian ad Litem Office throughout the year – swearing-in volunteers, attending volunteer appreciation events, and advocating for children to have a Guardian ad Litem at their side. He gave the child a voice in court at what is most certainly one of the most challenging times imaginable in a child’s life. For his determined work on behalf of Florida’s dependent children and continued support of the Guardian ad Litem Office, we designate Senate President Don Gaetz as an Honorary Guardian ad Litem. Thank you, Senator Gaetz.
Sharon Langer was the Executive Director of Dade Legal Aid for twenty-eight years. She practiced primarily in family law and served on many committees, boards, and task-forces dealing with issues important to women and children. She served on The Florida Bar Board of Governors for nine years and held many leadership positions, including Legislative Committee Chair and The Executive Committee. Ms. Langer served as vice-chair of The Florida Bar Children’s Commission and has been an adjunct professor at the University of Miami School of Law. She is one of the founders and current Board Chair of Casa Valentina, Inc. Ms. Langer has received numerous honors for her community service and distinguished career as a tireless advocate for the protection of children, women, victims of domestic violence, and other vulnerable populations, including FAWL’s For the Love of Children Award 2005, Women Who Make a Difference Award by the Junior League of Miami 2005, South Florida’s Unsung Heroes Award by the American Inns of Court (Spellman-Hoeveler Chapter) 2010 and the “Johnnie Ridgely President’s Award by the Dade County Bar Association 2011 – a transitional housing program for foster youth who age out of the system.
The Guardian ad Litem Office thanks Ms. Langer for all she does for Florida’s children.
Attorney Jessica Rae
The Guardian ad Litem Office presented Attorney Jessica Rae with the Honorary Guardian ad Litem Award at the 2014 Guardian ad Litem Disabilities Training Conference. Jessica has tirelessly represented hundreds of children in dependency proceedings while at Maryland Legal Aid. As Assistant Director for Children’s Rights, Jessica focused on dependency appellate practice and systemic advocacy. Jessica later joined the Baltimore City Department of Social Services and managed the Ready by 21 initiative created to improve outcomes for teens. In 2010, Jessica moved to Florida, where she became a Guardian ad Litem volunteer and later a senior attorney. In 2012, Jessica became the Florida Bar Trial Lawyers Children’s Legal Services Fellow at the Community Law Program, where she works with teens aging out of foster care. Her mission to help Florida’s most vulnerable children inspires us all.
Thank you, Jessica, for all you do for Florida’s children.
Attorney Sue Jamieson
Sue Jamieson has worked for three legal services programs during her 40-year career: Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, Legal Services of North Carolina, and Atlanta Legal Aid Society. Since 1980, she has focused on the rights of people in institutions. She is a dedicated legal advocate for the disabled, made history, and changed the lives of individuals with disabilities forever. In 1995, she filed a case against the Georgia Department of Human Services on behalf of Lois Curtis and the late Elaine Wilson. They both spent most of their lives receiving mental support services in state institutions. Even though health care professionals determined that both women would be better off receiving treatment in an integrated community-based setting rather than a state-run institution, the state denied their release. Sue then filed Olmstead v. LC and EW. The Olmstead case, widely described as the Brown v. Board of Education of disability rights cases, established the right of people with mental disabilities to live in the community with proper support as a civil right.
To honor Ms. Jamieson, the Guardian ad Litem Office presented her with a painting painted by Lois Curtis – one of the plaintiffs in the Olmstead case.
Senator Nancy Detert
Senator Nancy Detert was named an Honorary Guardian ad Litem at the Children’s Guardian Fund of Sarasota’s 2013 Fall Luncheon. Senator Detert has devoted her career to advancing the well-being of foster children and teens. During the 2013 legislative session, she sponsored two successful bills: one which restores normalcy to the lives of youth in foster care, and another (the “Nancy C. Detert Common Sense and Compassion Independent Living Act”) which allows foster teens to remain in foster care until age 21. The Senator sponsored the original bill in Florida, which established the Independent Living Program. She also testified before the Ways and Means Committee of the US House of Representatives in May 2013, sharing Florida’s initiatives with a national audience. Detert is known for her love of young people and has spent many hours listening to the personal stories of teens in foster care. Senator Detert continues to advocate for foster youth so they are treated like our own children as she leads the state in advocacy for Florida’s kids.
State Representative Ben Albritton
Representative Ben Albritton feels that lawmakers should focus on people, and with his tireless focus on foster children, this year Representative Albritton sponsored a bill that will help countless foster children have childhood memories they will cherish forever. The law allows children in foster care to take part in everyday activities—just like their peers. After receiving a recent award for his work, Representative Albritton said, “These kids deserve normalcy.” “They’re looking for hope.” He also said to the Guardian ad Litem volunteers, “I love you and appreciate you.”
The appreciation is mutual— the foster care children in Florida thank you, Representative Albritton—our newest Honorary Guardian ad Litem.
Tampa Bay Rays First Baseman James Loney
Tampa Bay Rays first baseman James Loney and his wife Nadia were named Honorary Guardians ad Litem during pre-game festivities at Tropicana Field, where the Rays hosted Guardian ad Litem Night. The announcement honoring Loney was made by Alan Abramowitz, past Executive Director before he and Justin threw out the first pitch in the game against the Minnesota Twins. Loney and his wife are featured in new public service announcements to recruit volunteer Guardians for the Guardian ad Litem Office.
Thank you, James and Nadia for your support of Florida’s most vulnerable children.
State Representative Keith Perry
Representative Keith Perry of Gainesville became an Honorary Guardian ad Litem when presented with the award by past Executive Director Alan Abramowitz at a Guardian ad Litem event on June 6, 2013. Perry was the House sponsor of the 2013 landmark legislation on Independent Living, which extended the opportunity for foster youth to remain in care until the age of 21. Together, he and Senator Nancy Detert advocated tirelessly for normalcy for foster youth and strengthening services to youth aging out of care. Representative Perry has a long history of support for human services issues and programs. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Salvation Army and is a Habitat for Humanity volunteer. Perry formerly served as a Board Member for Boys and Girls Clubs.
State Senator Rob Bradley
State Senator Rob Bradley is a champion for children. Senator Bradley has shown his commitment to Florida’s children through his work as chairman of the Senate’s Appropriations Subcommittee on Criminal and Civil Justice, which funds court services. Even when Senator Bradley was a freshman senator, he was appointed to chair this committee – a very important role as the committee determines funding for the courts and the Guardian ad Litem Office, clerks, conflict attorneys, and many others.
Senator Bradley consistently advocates for funding to provide a Guardian ad Litem volunteer to every one of Florida’s dependent children. He has pledged to work with the Guardian ad Litem Office in the coming years to advocate for increased funding to allow every dependent child to have a Guardian ad Litem volunteer. His work was crucial to a significant increase in funding for the Guardian ad Litem Office. He was also able to shift funding to prevention services in the Department of Juvenile Justice and Department of Corrections. His dedication and continued support will help the Guardian ad Litem Office reach all of Florida’s dependent children and create a better future for thousands of children.
Recently, when he was honored with the award of “Honorary Guardian ad Litem,” he said, “The real heroes … [are] the guardian volunteers … Their advocacy for these children truly changes lives.” He is right, and that is why Senator Bradley is an Honorary Guardian ad Litem, he is changing lives.
Tanya Wilkins, RN, BSN, wife of Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary David Wilkins, began her career as an advocate long before her husband came to DCF. She and her husband mentored foster children and provided leadership at the Florida Baptist Children’s Home in Tallahassee.
She was named by Governor Rick Scott as Florida’s Volunteer Advocate for Foster Care and Adoption within the Governor‘s Office of Adoption and Child Protection. Mrs. Wilkins led the Fostering Florida‘s Future Workgroup, whose goal was to recruit 1,200 new foster parents, retain current foster parents, and celebrate all of Florida‘s foster parents. In that capacity, Mrs. Wilkins played a strong role in advocating for the passage of the Quality Parenting for Children in Foster Care Act (the normalcy bill) that passed the Legislature unanimously and was signed into law.
She was presented with the first Honorary Guardian ad Litem award by Alan Abramowitz, past Guardian ad Litem Office Executive Director.