Florida's Guardian Ad Litem Program Honored with National Angels in Adoption Award

By: GAL Press Release Email
By: GAL Press Release Email

August 28, 2012

On behalf of our community volunteers and professional staff colleagues, we are pleased to announce that the Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program (GAL Program) is a recipient of an Angels in Adoption Award. The Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) Angels in Adoption honors more than 150 Angels nationwide for excellence in finding forever families for children in the foster care system.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio selected the Florida GAL Program for this prestigious award. The GAL Program will be recognized in Washington, D.C, on Wednesday, September 12th at an awards GALA. Executive Director, Alan Abramowitz, will be accompanied by the GAL Program’s Volunteer of the Year: Glenn and Sherri Eckhardt, and Chief Legal Counsel: Mercedes Scopetta. This year's National Angels in Adoption™ awardees are actress Katherine Heigl, singer/songwriter Josh Kelley, and PEOPLE Magazine.

The GAL Program has received much support from the Governor of the State of Florida and state of Florida dignitaries. Please see their quotes below.

· “Congratulations to Florida’s Guardian ad Litem volunteers and staff for this recognition of your continued commitment to Florida’s children. Guardians ad Litem provide care and attention essential to the safety, security and success of our state’s children,” Governor Rick Scott said. “Dedicated Floridians like these make a better life possible for children in need of a permanent and loving home.”

· “Congratulations to the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program for receiving the Angels in Adoption award! Thank you for your dedication to ensuring that Florida’s abused and neglected children can transition to a safe, loving and permanent family. This national recognition is truly well deserved,” stated Senator Don Gaetz.

· “I am pleased to see the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program's tireless work on behalf of Florida’s abused and neglected children has paid off with well-deserved national accolades," said Speaker-designate Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel). "The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program represents the best of Florida – volunteers, public partnerships and government agencies working together to provide a safe and loving environment for Florida’s abused and neglected children. Thank you for being a friend, a mentor, and a voice for Florida’s abused and neglected children.”

· “The Florida Guardian ad Litem Program’s volunteers reach out and help children in need all over the state every day,” said DCF Secretary David Wilkins. “These volunteer share our strong commitment and passion to help improve the lives of Florida’s children and families. Our partnership with Guardians ad Litem help give a voice to our children in care and help ensure their safety, well-being and success.”

· “The Florida Chamber recognizes the many contributions Florida’s Guardian ad Litem Program plays in our state’s overall quality of life and in Florida’s ability to link top quality public programs with private-sector contributions,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Their success stories demonstrate that they are an indispensable intermediary between children and the court and between children and the Department of Children and Families.”

The Florida GAL Program is extremely grateful to be recognized nationally for its accomplishments in facilitating permanent forever homes for children in our state’s foster care system. We appreciate Senator Rubio for selecting the Florida GAL Program for such a prestigious award. GAL Executive Director Alan Abramowitz stated, “I want to thank the volunteers and staff, but also our partners in fighting for children, including the foster parents, relatives, the Department of Children and Families, Judges and providers ensuring children don’t languish in foster care.”

Florida’s Guardian ad Litem Program is a partnership of community volunteer child advocates and professional staff who join together to provide a powerful voice on behalf of Florida’s abused and neglected children. Since its inception over 30 years ago, the GAL Program has represented the best interests of over 125,000 children in Florida’s dependency court and assisted in the adoption process for many of these children. The GAL Program is instrumental in Florida’s adoption process as the Guardian ad Litem is the sole voice for the child throughout the court process.

The GAL Program has participated in 2,221 adoptions this past fiscal year 2011/2012. Florida’s GAL volunteers advocate for the child at each stage of a dependency proceeding to help the child achieve permanency. During the initial stages of the case, the GAL is often the person who seeks out family members or other individuals with a connection to the child for the potential adoptive placement.

Once a child is placed and the goal of the case becomes adoption, the GAL helps the potential adoptive family understand the adoption process and the benefits of adoption such as the availability of a subsidy and tax credit.

The GAL volunteer works with stakeholders in the dependency system to ensure that home studies are completed in a timely manner and that all legal requirements are met. Essentially, the adoption process of children from Florida’s foster care system is more efficient and successful because of Florida’s Guardian ad Litem Program.

For more information about the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program, please visit www.GuardianadLitem.org or call 1-866-341-1425.

For more information about Angels in Adoption, please visit www.angelsinadoption.org.

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