The 16th Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program serving Monroe County would like to share our excitement in representing 100 percent of our children in dependency court proceedings.
For those who don’t know, the Guardian ad Litem Program, which operates in most states, is a partnership of community advocates and professional staff who provide a powerful voice on behalf of children who are abused, abandoned and neglected and go through the court system.
Our program in the Keys could not have accomplished 100 percent representation of these vulnerable children without the tremendous support we receive from the Monroe County Commission, county staff leadership, the many municipalities, our state legislators and, most importantly, our more than 100 volunteers and Voices for Florida Keys Children Inc., a nonprofit partnership organization that has been dedicated to bettering the lives of the children we serve for 25 years.
Our volunteers’ loyalty and dedication are the heart and soul of our program. Our volunteers speak up for vulnerable, innocent children and hold government and private agencies accountable for their safety, security and best interests. Some of our volunteers have been active in our program for more than 20 years, with no compensation for their life-changing efforts other than the simple knowledge that they are making a difference in the lives of these children.
Florida Guardian ad Litem Executive Director Alan Abramowitz recently revealed during the Florida Legislative session that our state’s program has exceeded its goal of 10,000 volunteers. As of February, Florida leads the nation with 10,056 Guardian Ad Litem volunteers that are trained and certified to work with children who are abused, abandoned or neglected. Most volunteers represent two or more abused children, visiting them at least once a month, and advising child-welfare judges on options for assuring the child’s best interests.
But even with our recruiting success in reaching the 10,000 target, the Guardian ad Litem Program is always in need of volunteers. Anyone 18 or older can become a volunteer simply by participating in a local training course and meeting other qualifications.
Our volunteer base is as unique and diverse as our state’s population. We have doctors, nurses, students, veterans, special-education teachers, hospitality workers, stay-at-home moms, restaurant cooks, retired persons, military personnel, FBI agents and law enforcement officers, all ranging from age 21 to 70.
If you are interested in becoming a Guardian ad Litem volunteer, reach out to our local office and help us ensure that no child is left without a voice. Our volunteers make a difference in the lives of the Keys’ most vulnerable children. To learn more or to become a volunteer, visit www.GuardianadLitem.org or call (305) 295-6978 and speak with our outreach coordinator Anissah Tomes.
Alexsandra Corsi Leto
Director, Guardian ad Litem Program in Monroe County