As we close out the 4th week of the legislative session, I wanted to update you on our efforts.
As you will recall, we submitted 5 legislative budget requests to the Legislature for consideration. They pertained to in and out of home care, certification and salary adjustments. Budgets were initially released last week and we were thrilled to see both Chambers had included portions of our budget requests.
The Senate included approximately $1 million for out of home care and $1.4 million for in-home care (in cases where children are 3 years or younger). We appreciate Chair Negron, Senator Bradley, Senator Flores, and Senator Gaetz who have been actively supporting our efforts.
The House included approximately $1 million for out of home care only. Neither chamber has included funding for certification at this time. We are working hard to see the House match the Senate on in-home care and for both Chambers to include funding for certification. Chair Metz, Vice-Chair Spano and Representative Albritton have been very helpful listening to children’s needs.
Additionally, we are still working on the salary adjustments budget request. We have gained some traction in the House, but still have hurdles to overcome. As you are aware, salary adjustments are extremely difficult to achieve, but we are working every avenue possible. I appreciate Chair Corcoran’s efforts in keeping this issue open in the House appropriations for GAL staff. There has been discussion in the Senate of cost of living increases for all state employees.
Overall, the past 10 days have been great for the Guardian ad Litem Program! Of course, as you know, this process if far from over, but we are certainly in a great starting position. We are closely working with Legislators in both the Senate and House and are monitoring each budget request closely. I want each of you to know that the assistance provided by the Non-Profits to support the lobbyist for the Foundation has been extremely helpful. Our lobbyists’ name is Ashley and the reason she is so successful in delivering our need and message is that she is an active volunteer GAL for the past 10 years.
Thank you for your continued advocacy and support! I particularly believe we are in good shape because the legislators know the great work each of you do for children. I hear about it all the time and they often tell me to let our staff and volunteers know they appreciate you being a voice for children.
Please know how much you are appreciated! I will provide updates throughout the remainder of session and please contact me with any questions.
Alan F. Abramowitz
Guardian ad Litem Program