June is National Reunification Month, which recognizes the people and efforts around the country that help children in the state child welfare system and their families stay together. When children must be removed from their families to ensure their safety, the first goal is to reunite them with their families as soon as possible. Safe and stable reunification can happen with the right services and support in place, which the Guardian ad Litem Office helps to achieve.
The Guardian ad Litem Office represents abused and neglected children in Florida’s dependency courts with the help of trained volunteers who get to know their assigned children and visit and support them throughout the case. Volunteers work with Child Advocate Managers and Guardian ad Litem Attorneys to provide judges with first-hand accounts of the child’s situation, information gathered about the case, the child’s wishes, and recommendations about what is in the child’s best interests.
In court, the focus of Florida Guardian ad Litem is on the child, whether it is advocating for family time with parents, visits with siblings who are placed in different homes, stability in placements or schools, and services for the child. When a judge appoints Florida Guardian ad Litem, every child gets the benefit of a Guardian ad Litem Attorney and a multidisciplinary team representing the child’s legal interests and best interests.
Volunteer responsibilities include contact with parents and observations of parent visits with their children, so the volunteer-parent relationship starts early in the case. When a child is reunified with a parent, the Guardian ad Litem remains appointed and continues to visit the family for at least six months. The multidisciplinary team can be a source of support to a parent before and after reunification.
The Guardian ad Litem Office is able to provide assistance to children and their families through each circuit’s non-profit. Thanks to funding from The Guardian Foundation, Inc., which provide resources to children represented by the Eighth Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem, a mother who was recently reunified with her children was able to get furniture for her newly-rented apartment. The furnishings enabled the mom and her children to gather comfortably in the living area for family time.
We know children do best when they can safely remain with their parents or other family members – or when they can safely return home. You can help during National Reunification Month, help a child in foster care. Visit https://www.gal8circuit.org/
Angela Armstrong Circuit Director 8th Judicial Circuit Guardian ad Litem
The opinions expressed by letter or opinion writers are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of AlachuaChronicle.com. Letters may be submitted to email@example.com and are published at the discretion of the editor.
Please log in again.
The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.