The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program is a partnership of community advocates and professional staff providing a powerful voice on behalf of Florida's abused and neglected children. Become a vital part of the advocacy team and discover how you can make a difference in a child's life.
Thousands of abused and neglected children become the subject of judicial proceedings each year in Florida. Their voices are often unheard, and best interests overlooked in the complicated and overburdened dependency court process. Guardians ad Litem are citizens who volunteer to become part of a court program to represent the best interests of an assigned child or sibling group. The volunteer Guardian ad Litem is a representative for the child before the court, social service agencies and the community.
As of November 2012, there are approximately 7, 720 active Guardian ad Litem Volunteers in Florida representing approximately 23,000 children. The 8th Judicial Circuit advocates for approximately 550 children in the dependency court system.
The value of the Guardian ad Litem Volunteers is significant. Studies conducted show that children with a volunteer are substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care. Cases involving a volunteer are more likely to be permanently closed than cases where a volunteer is involved. Studies have also shown that children who are represented by a volunteer have better outcomes than those who are served by paid staff carrying a large caseload. Children who are served by volunteers return to foster care at a rate half that of other children. They do better in school and are more likely to pass all courses.
In addition to the overwhelming value of Guardian ad Litem volunteers to the dependent children whose best interest they represent, the GAL volunteer base of more than 8000 is of tremendous value to the State of Florida. It is estimated that in FY 12-13 the projected value of volunteer’s time donated to advocating equates to about $16M. The value of the mileage driven by volunteers in FY 12-13 is projected to be about $3M. And, it would take about 450 additional state employees to do the work done by Guardian ad Litem volunteers.
There is no question that GAL volunteers are PRICELESS!