Guardian ad Litem Foundation offers a voice, guidance for abused, neglected and abandoned children in Southwest Florida

By Roxanne Dyer

Children should never be left to fend for themselves.

Unfortunately, many youth in Southwest Florida have been abused, neglected or abandoned by their biological parents. With mom and dad out of the picture, the judicial system steps in, placing children in homes of relatives, family friends and sometimes total strangers.

It’s certainly a stressful time, to say the least.

Guardian ad Litem provides court-certified volunteer advocates to help children navigate the judicial, education and child welfare system. These volunteers, GALs as we call them, work with judges, caregivers, teachers, health professionals and others to advocate on behalf of a child.

Guardian ad Litem Foundation, meanwhile, provides financial support to recruit and train additional volunteers. About one-third of youth in the child welfare system do not have GALs, so finding help for those children is a Foundation priority in 2019.

Another area of focus is the Children’s Needs Program, which covers the “extras” that can strain a caregiver or foster family’s budget – school field trips, participation in sports or clubs, school field trips and birthday parties. Just because a child is going through a difficult time doesn’t mean he or she should stop being a kid.

A third fundraising initiative is the Foundation’s Beds for Kids program, which has placed more than 2,300 beds into the homes of caring people who agreed to take in a vulnerable child, but lacked the resources to provide a bed.

Guardian ad Litem Foundation, 20th Judicial Circuit, is hosting a series of fundraising events this spring, hoping that increased attendance and sponsorship will generate enough revenue to provide volunteer advocates for the 1,500-plus local children who need our support.

About the Author

Roxanne Dyer is executive director of Guardian ad Litem Foundation, 20th Judicial Circuit, a nonprofit serving children who have been abused, neglected or abandoned in Southwest Florida. For more information, visit VoicesForKids.org or call 239-533-1435.