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2016 Disabilities Training Conference – A Voice Heard

This year over 450 attorneys, judges and child welfare professionals attended the Third Florida Guardian ad Litem Program Disabilities Training Conference.  The keynote speakers were inspiring thought provoking and gave us all tools to use in helping the children we work with every day.  The workshops were wide ranging with presenters sharing their expertise in areas such […]

Kathryn Hochmuth Receives the GAL Impact Award – Named in Honor of Akerman LLP

The Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program announces the first recipient of the “Impact Award”named in honor of the national law firm, Akerman LLP. Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director of the Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program, announced today that the Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program honored, Pensacola-based Child’s Best Interest Attorney, Kathryn Hochmuth […]

Department of Children and Families v. S.A.E., 184 So.3rd 615 (Fla. 1st DCA 2016)

The Department of Children and Families appealed an order adjudicating A.A.A.-E . dependent, asserting the trial court misapplied § 39.01(15)(a). The First District Court of Appeal (First DCA) reversed the dependency adjudication. Mother filed a petition for dependency regarding her son, A.A.A.-E., based on abandonment by Father 12 years prior in Honduras. Mother moved to […]

Great News for Child Best Hope Advocates

Today we were validated in pursuing what we call the “Child Best Hope” Act.  Although sadly we did not prevail in an adoption intervention case for a child, the court specifically mentions that the policy concerns are being addressed by SB 590.  My prayers and thoughts go out to J.R., the child involved in the […]

Legislative Update

After what seems to have been a long few weeks, I wanted to share with you where we landed. In Budget Conference, both the Senate and the House agreed to additionally fund approximately $1 million for out-of-home care, and approximately $1.4 million for in-home care (in cases where children are 3 years or younger). That […]

Legislative Update – Budget Conference

GAL staff, volunteers and supporters: As we get to the budget decisions by the legislature it becomes more obvious to me that the work each of you do in the field has brought the GAL Program a level of credibility that few organizations have.  The public-partnership and our non-profits have impacted each legislature in their […]

Preventing Another “Phoebe” Tragedy – Letter from a GAL

A Guardian ad Litem Volunteer asks for help from the community to ensure that children have someone to be their “voice” We recently marked the one year anniversary of the horrific tragedy in which a little girl named Phoebe was thrown off the Skyway Bridge by her father. This unspeakable act has touched the hearts […]

Legislative Update – Budget

Team GAL: The 60 day Legislative Session comes to a close on March 11, 2016.  We are halfway through week 6 of session and I wanted to give you a quick update.  We continue to be very optimistic! To recap, in the initial budget, the Senate included approximately $1 million for out-of-home care and $1.4 […]

Legislative Update

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 […]

Child’s Best Hope Act – Update

The latest update is great news.  We are almost at the end of the legislative process. We have completed the process in the Senate on the “Adoption Intervention Bill (SB 590) and it should go over to the House in messages. House Bill 673 is on the agenda on the Health and Human Services Committee […]

Volunteer of the Year – Randy Olson

Randy Olson is not the person you will ask, “Will you do that?” He’s the person who has done that and is on to the next thing! There is little Randy won’t do for the GAL Program. Randy never says no…there is no job too big or too small! He isn’t afraid to tackle a […]

Guardian ad Litem Legislative Session Update (Week 3)

As we kicked off Children’s Week in Tallahassee yesterday, it seemed like a great time for a legislative update.  Thank you for your continued support of the Guardian ad Litem Program! Today marks the 3rd week of the 2016 Legislative session and it has proven very busy.  I presented Guardian ad Litem’s budget requests to […]

Note from Alan Abramowitz – First Day of 2016 Legislative Session

All GAL staff, volunteers and supporters: Today marks the first day of the 2016 Legislative Session.  We are excited Guardian ad Litem’s priorities will be discussed, during this 60 day process. From a budgetary standpoint, GAL has requested $1.1 million to account for the increased number of children coming into care, $1.36 million for in-home […]

Update on “Child’s Best Hope Act”

Child’s Best Hope Advocates: Update on “Child’s Best Hope Act”.    Over the holidays not much happened. These bills will be heard soon in the Senate Judiciary Committee and in the House Children Families and Seniors subcommittee.  The two bills are still different however we are working to get them identical.  It is very early in […]

Lorraine Donovan-Lepanto Awarded GAL Leadership Award

An essential element of a great Guardian ad Litem team, and therefore great advocacy for our children, is an excellent leader. Circuit 2 supervising attorney Lorraine Donovan-Lepanto fulfills that role every day. With her guidance and support our legal team and staff are able to provide quality, effective advocacy for the children we serve.   […]

A Series of Special Education Training Videos Available on the GAL website

Do you want to better understand the rights of  students with special needs to improve your representation? Special Education Law, presented by Prof. Paolo Annino, a Glass Professor Public Interest Law at Florida State University, will strengthen your knowledge. Special Education Law is  specially designed instruction that addresses the unique needs that result from a […]

State Representative Janet Adkins Named Honorary Guardian ad Litem by the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program

Florida Guardian ad Litem Office Executive Director Alan Abramowitz named State Representative Janet Adkins as an Honorary Guardian ad Litem in recognition of her tireless advocacy in passing the Regis Little Act. In giving the award to Representative Adkins, Executive Director Alan Abramowitz thanked her by acknowledging that “GAL volunteers do not work alone.  There […]

2015 Disabilities Training Conference – Imagining the Future

This year over 450 attorneys, judges and child welfare professionals attended the second Florida Guardian ad Litem Program Disabilities Training Conference.  The keynote speakers were inspiring thought provoking and gave us all tools to use in helping the children we work with every day.  The workshops were wide ranging with presenters sharing their expertise in areas such […]

In re R.T., 2015 WL 1259666 (Fla. 2d DCA)

Mother petitioned the court for a writ of certiorari seeking to quash the trial court’s order requiring her three teenage sons to undergo therapeutic assessments in connection with the denial of Mother’s motion to amend a safety plan prohibiting Mother’s husband, S.K., from having contact with her sons. The Second District Court of Appeal (Second […]

Update – GAL Legislative Budget June 15,2015

Guardian ad Litem Team, The House and Senate are close to agreement on a General Appropriations Act and hope to pass a final budget no later than June 19. Based on the decisions made to date (and these are not likely to change at this point), the Guardian ad Litem budget will remain at its […]

J.A.I. v. B.R., 2015 WL 404001 (Fla. 2d DCA)

J.A.I. and J.K.C. filed a petition for writ of certiorari seeking review of a trial court order requiring them and J.A.I.’s daughter to submit to genetic testing for the purpose of determining paternity. The Second District Court of Appeal (Second DCA) granted the writ finding that B.R. was precluded from challenging paternity. J.A.I. and J.K.C. […]

Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Foundation Golf Tournament

The Guardian ad Litem Foundation Presents the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Foundation Golf Tournament to help Florida’s most vulnerable children while having fun playing golf. Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Guardian ad Litem Foundation.   The Guardian ad Litem Foundation supports the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program, which gives a voice in court to abused, abandoned and […]

Visit the Statewide GAL Office’s New and Improved Website

Our website has been redesigned to better serve Florida’s child welfare advocates!  On it you will find how to get involved with the GAL Program, training, resources, local program and non-profit information, the  latest news and case summaries – including the Legal Briefs Newsletter.  Visit www.GuardianadLitem.org 

C.B. v. Department of Children and Families, 148 So.3d 833 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014)

Father appealed part of the trial court’s dispositional order requiring him to participate in anger management. The Department conceded error in that the evidence presented to the trial court failed to demonstrate a need for such counseling. Florida Rule of Juvenile Procedure 8.410(b)(4) provides that the case plan be “meaningful and designed to address the […]

E.H. v. Department of Children and Families, 147 So.3d 616 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014)

Mother appealed the dependency adjudication of her child, asserting the trial court’s order was not supported by competent substantial evidence. The Fourth DCA affirmed the trial court’s adjudication order. Mother had a history of mental illness and domestic violence with father. Four years prior, mother had another child removed following allegations that mother said she […]

In re G.M., Jr., 71 So.3d 924 (Fla. 2d DCA 2011)

The father appealed the trial court’s order terminating his parental rights based on his failure to complete his case plan tasks and abandonment. The father argued he was unable to comply with his case plan because the Department of Children and Family Services (department) failed to make reasonable efforts to reunify the father with his […]

A.J. v. Department of Children and Families, 111 So.3d 980 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013)

The father appealed the trial court’s dependency adjudication of his daughter. She was born prematurely and had significant health problems, which required intensive medical involvement. The Department of Children and Families (department) based their dependency petition on the parent’s neglect of the child’s extensive medical needs and her failure to thrive.  The parent had failed […]

Chew v. Roberts, 122 So.3d 493 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013)

After a child’s parental rights were terminated, the foster parents moved to intervene in the dependency proceeding in order to adopt the child. The child’s aunt and uncle also filed motions to adopt the child and moved the trial court to consolidate the actions. The foster parents opposed the consolidation because they did not received […]

J.H. v. Department of Children and Families, 2014 WL 3559381 (Fla. 5th DCA)

The Department of Children and Families appealed denial of its petition for termination of parental rights.  The Fifth District Court of Appeal (Fifth DCA) affirmed the trial court’s decision but issued its opinion without prejudice, specifically granting the Department permission to refile for termination of parental rights if Father is sentenced to a significant prison […]

In the Interest of I.B., 2014 WL 3375933 (Fla. 5th DCA)

The Fifth District Court of Appeal (Fifth DCA) withdrew its previous opinion dated May 9, 2014 following review of a motion for rehearing by the adoption intermediary for the prospective adoptive parents (foster parents).  The prospective adoptive parents appealed the trial court’s order striking Mother’s adoption consent.   The Fifth DCA reversed the decision, finding insufficient […]

In the Interest of A.R., 2014 WL 3537020 (Fla. 2nd DCA)

Father appealed termination of his parental rights following Mother’s private petition for termination.  Mother’s underlying petition cited Fla. Statute § 39.806(1)(d)(1), which allows for termination when the parent is expected to be incarcerated for a significant portion of the child’s minority.  The trial court did not permit Father to present evidence regarding the nature of […]

Conferences and Training ~ Archive 2008

Attorney conference calls are held monthly and provide up-to-date information on topics related to legal advocacy. These trainings are conducted by both Program staff and experts from outside the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program. Each hour long presentation has been approved for CLE credit. Below you will find audio files of these conference calls as […]

2012 & 2013 Scorecards

In 2012 we introduced  a Scorecard that focuses on a causal relationship between two critical areas: First -Program Effectiveness Measures that are within the control of the GAL Program staff & volunteer advocates. These measures include recruitment, retention and administration of the Program and have a direct impact on child representation. Second – Child Welfare […]

Conferences and Training ~ Archive 2014

Florida Guardian ad Litem Disabilities Training Conference Workshop Videos & Materials In May 2014, the GAL Program held the Florida Guardian ad Litem Disabilities Training Conference in Orlando – over 400 child welfare professionals attended the conference.  This first of its kind conference brought together attorneys ad litem, attorneys and non-attorneys from government agencies and […]

Legal Briefs

Sign Up For the Legal Briefs Newsletter Legal Briefs Newsletters Legal Briefs Newsletter: Fall 2018 Legal Briefs Newsletter: Summer 2018 Legal Briefs Newsletter: Spring 2018   Archived Legal Briefs Newsletters (2004-2017)    

Conferences and Training

About Conferences and Training Attorney conference calls provide up-to-date information on topics related to legal advocacy. These trainings are conducted by both Program staff and experts from outside the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program. Each hour long presentation has been approved for CLE credit (CLE Credit is good for 18 months from the Conference Date). […]

Volunteer Training

Trafficking of Children – Child Labor and Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CSEC) Trafficking of Children Training (2017) Trafficking of Children – Child’s Best Interest Attorney Training (2017) Educational Advocacy Webinars – Dr. Katie Kelly The Educational Advocacy Webinars are recorded versions of live webinars that are presented on a monthly basis. The presenter, Katie V. Kelly, […]

Honorary Guardians ad Litem

Honorary Guardians ad Litem Giving, caring, protecting, advocating, listening – these are some of the words that describe the spirit of the Guardian ad Litem Program. Each day, volunteer child advocates help shape the future and create hope for the children of Florida who have been neglected and abused. Their work with the Guardian ad […]

Program Standards & Employee Handbook

Program Standards Dear Guardian ad Litem Volunteers, Staff, Youth, and Supporters: Guardian ad Litem standards were developed to inspire and empower volunteers and staff to say, “I am for the Child.” “I am for the Child” is the theme for the GAL standards. I believe they reflect that we have listened to the children and […]