The Guardian ad Litem Foundation raises funds and administers programs to benefit children assigned to the GAL Program in the 20th Judicial Circuit. We are committed to continually seek funds as it is core to our mission through all methods of fundraising within our abilities.  You are invited to make a donation to the Foundation in support of the children we serve.

GUARDIAN AD LITEM SUPPORT PROGRAM

 
  • Description – The recruitment, training, retention, and support of volunteers to serve as Guardian ad Litem advocates for Southwest Florida’s abused, neglected, and abandoned children.

  • Program goal – Provide a certified Volunteer Child Advocate for 100% of the abused, neglected children assigned to SWFL’s 20th Circuit dependency court system.

Volunteer Child Advocates are trained and court-certified to represent children who have been removed from their homes and are under the jurisdiction of the state. The child’s advocate serves as the eyes, ears and voice on behalf of the child in courts, school, the child welfare system, their temporary living situation, and in the community.

Throughout the life of the case, the Volunteer Advocate monitors the care and needs of the child, advocates for services, and makes recommendations to the judge on what is best for the child until a permanent solution is achieved. This usually happens through reunification with the family, permanent guardianship, or adoption.

FUNDS FOR THE SUPPORT PROGRAM

In order to achieve a higher representation and serve more children in crisis, we must increase resources through consistent fundraising. Funds raised for this program are utilized to recruit adequate numbers of new volunteers; provide pre-service and advanced training; provide ongoing support of the volunteer’s functions; and conduct volunteer appreciation/retention activities to minimize attrition.

CHILDREN’S NEEDS PROGRAM

  • Description – Provides for items and experiences that the children need as identified by their Guardian ad Litem Child Advocate for stabilization and normalcy during their time in the system.

  • Program goal – To fulfill 100% of the requests submitted that meet policy guidelines each year.

Our Children’s Needs Program exists to help our kids fit in with their peers and feel “normal” during their time in the system. Child Advocates often identify specific needs the children have that caregivers cannot afford, and other agencies do not provide.

Once a child is removed from their home, the future becomes uncertain and stability is a challenge. This creates a great deal of stress on the child. It is important to strive for a sense of safety and normalcy to reduce anxiety and build confidence. Volunteer Advocates are trained to recognize signs of stress, ask the child for feedback and seek appropriate supportive measures.

Volunteer Child Advocates determine needs and submit requests to the GAL Foundation for fulfillment. Requests are reviewed against policy guidelines and filled accordingly through the Volunteer Advocate back to the child.

Fulfilling requested needs helps establish a sense of normalcy and places the child firmly on the path to overcoming their circumstances and becoming a better citizen. The types of normalcy needs vary tremendously and are very specific to each case.

NORMALCY NEEDS

  • Beds for Kids – New caregivers often offer a safe home, but an actual bed may be a true hardship and barrier to accepting the responsibility for the child’s placement.
    A new bed and bedding are delivered directly to the child by our team.

  • Clothing – Children identified as abused are taken from their homes suddenly and have no personal items

  • Tutoring – Children who change homes and schools several times over need additional instruction.

  • Lessons – Children in the system exhibit signs of stress and find relief, expression and focus through lessons such as swimming, dance, gymnastics or art

  • Sports – Children with unresolved anger find focus and release through structured physical activities such as martial arts or sports participation

  • Baby items – Car seats, high-chairs, cribs and strollers that meets current standards

  • Happier birthday – Many of the children we serve have never had a present or celebration like most of their peers

  • Camp – Socialization and skill-building through day camp experiences

  • Clubs & field trips – Girl Scouts, 4-H and class trips to name a few examples.

  • Other – Needs vary tremendously and are specific to each child’s case – this category runs the gamut!

FUNDS FOR CHILDREN’S NEEDS PROGRAM

Funds for the Children’s Needs Fund program are sought and provided primarily through grants, donations and our annual fundraising events. Funds are requested in support of this program in order to fulfill requests for normalcy aid and to meet the associated administrative, general and fundraising costs.