Brown Bag Lunches:
Friday, July 19
Friday, August 16
Epi Center 2nd floor
13805 58th St. N
Friday, July 19
Friday, August 16
New Port Richey BBL
West Pasco Govt. Center
8731 Citizens Drive
New Port Richey
Pinellas In Services:
Tour of Pace Center for Girls
July 16, 2019
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
For upcoming trainings please register on the on-line events calendar under the Pinellas tab for the training
Suncoast Kids Place
August 19 at 4:00 PM
St. Mary's Episcopal Church
37623 Magnolia Avenue
Dade City Florida, 33523
August 29 at 6:00 PM
Commissioners Bd. Room
West Pasco Govt. Center
8731 Citizens Drive
New Port Richey
Please register on the on-line events calendar under the Pasco Tab for the trainings HERE
Are you interested in receiving news and resources directly from the Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Tampa Bay? If so email
and she will happily add you to the email list!
Great Peeps To Tweet
Kudos to CAM Wendy Kelly, who is always helpful and willing to jump in and assist!
Thank you to everyone who helped with the ICOT move, especially CAM Paulette White, for working so hard to make things happen.
Thank you Kay Brulo for your ongoing representation of your children and for your outstanding advocacy for these children, in spite of parental setbacks.
Nancy Blunt for always traveling far and wide to visit your children
Becky Weiss for your tireless efforts to assist the parents to engage in their case plan tasks to try and move this case forward.
Frank Zebert for always answering the call, going above and beyond.
Mike Bailey for your ongoing representation for children is so many different placements. Heartfelt thanks from you "Grammarian"
Deb Fusek, what can your CAM say? You are most extraordinary on a very lengthy and difficult case!
Tony Gerodimos, thank you for keeping on top of your case though you have many challenges within your own field of work.
A Special Note:
Austen Truslow son of Volunteer Child Advocate Andrea Truslow.
Through his Birdies for Charity drive, Austen gathered pledges from family and friends for each birdie he made in competition in 2018, in support of commitment to finding adoptive homes for children.
"Birdies for Charity gave more meaning to my tournaments last year," says Austen, a native of New Smyrna Beach, FL. "Helping these children is something everyone should want to do."
Austen wanted to support the cause in honor of his mother, Andrea, who has worked with children in foster care for many years as a volunteer with Florida's Guardian ad Litem Program.
"I am proud of Austen's Birdies for Charity campaign," said Andrea. "I have witnessed the pain children suffer when they are in limbo, whether in foster care or elsewhere, without a permanent family. Adoptive homes for these children are needed more than ever."
Kim Hudgell thank you for seeing your case through to reunification and also working another difficult case.
Christina Strickland for keeping up with a case that has become very complicated.
A big thanks to
Michelle Libby for working with a very difficult youth and going above and beyond.
Jill Albury- Thanks for advocating for your child and staying with him until he is placed in his forever home.
Tammy Martin for keeping your CAM and CBIA updated on your case.
Thanks to the Volunteer Task Force Team ( VTF)
for all of your work and help and a speical thanks to,
Karen Amundrud for keeping us all fed with the sweets.
Thanks to the Guardian ad Litem Foundation, and the board members, for all of the amazing work you do for the kids, staff and volunteers in our circuit.
Congrats Pinellas April/May class!
Congrats Pasco May class!
Treats celebrating last class!
Welcome Newly Certified Volunteers
Thirty One Years
Elyse McGuire, Esq.
Mary Beth McNeal
Christy Ann Nichols
Jennifer Edwards, Esq.
Vicky Keenan Talley
Diane Pearson, Diane
Paige Ragan, Paige
Commitment to Children- The children for whom we advocate are our most important priority.
Communication Built on Trust- The Program has a culture of open communication, active listening, teamwork, and regard for the views of others. This includes being honest and straightforward with the children we represent in keeping with their level of age and maturity.
Collective Empowerment- Each circuit has the authority and responsibility to make and implement the best decisions to meet the children's needs. This empowerment must be passed on to volunteers, staff and attorneys.
Collaboration- The Program proactively seeks to develop relationships that promote the well-being of the whole child.
Courtesy- The Program values all who engage in this challenging work and ensures they are treated with respect and dignity.
One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.
Henry David Thoreau
It has been a busy year so far here in the 6th Circuit. There are some new things on which I wanted to take a minute and update you.
Our ICOT office in Pinellas is moving this week. Our new office is located at the EpiCenter located almost across the street from the ICOT building. The physical address is 13805 58th St. N, Suite 200 Clearwater, FL 33760. Thank you to all the volunteers who helped us in this process.
Many of you read the emails from Alan Abramowitz, our Executive Director, explaining all of the legislative changes that took place over this past session. Two key pieces of legislation that passed:
- Charting a Positive Path for the Future, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Bean and Rep. Tyler Sirois, and
- A Year is A Long Time in the Life of A Child, sponsored by Sen. Ben Albritton and Rep. Spencer Roach.
Much thanks to everyone who championed these important causes to help improve the lives of our kids in the child welfare system.
Go The Extra Mile!
There is a great new opportunity for volunteers who drive at least 25 miles round trip to visit a child, or other specific purposes, to apply for travel reimbursement! Details of this program, forms and a brochure can be located on the Fl. Guardian ad Litem website.
To go directly to the program click
If you have any questions, please reach out to your Child Advocate Manager.
Sixth Circuit Vital Statistics:
Of those without a GAL
Transportation Approved Volunteers
Volunteer Child Advocate Best Practices
JUDICIAL REVIEWS: Please calendar your Judicial Review prep date in advance so that you are able to submit your Judicial Review two weeks prior to the actual court date. Please remember to document and document to determine if Conditions for Return have been met.
EDUCATION: It is not too early to calendar follow up for the next school year. Check to be sure of your child's grade level, and the need for any special services. If your child has participated in a Summer Bridge Program, include this information in your report to your CAM.
ADVOCACY REVIEWS: Always remember that we are a team, the VCA, the Best Interest Attorney (BIA) and your CAM. Discussion often takes place on an ongoing basis, but an Advocacy Review can be scheduled at any time if there are additional issues that need to be discussed.
Florida Guardian ad Litem Program's
Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Best Interest Representation
Florida Guardian ad Litem Program (GAL Program) utilizes a multi-disciplinary model of representation and a best interest standard to represent abused abandoned and neglected children in the dependency court system. The multidisciplinary model of advocacy is child centered and driven by the best interest of each individual child.
Determining what is in the best interest for each child is a collaborative effort and each member of the team has an important role to play. The Volunteer Child Advocate (VCA) becomes the expert about the child; the eyes and ears of the team. The Child Advocate Manager (CAM) finds the needed services for the child and guides the VCA. The GAL Program child's best interest (CBI) attorney takes the information and provides counsel to the team pursuant to the rules regulating
Florida Bar. fn1
Each GAL advocacy team member has an obligation to ensure that all members of the team have the most current information from which to form an opinion and make decisions on a case. This includes timely and consistent information sharing with all parties involved in each child's case. The child's voice is considered to be an integral part of the team's decision making and advocacy. The team members are equal partners with each providing a unique perspective and knowledge gained through their life experiences that compliments the others and enhances the quality of the advocacy leading to better outcomes for the child. Standard 1, 1.A., Florida Guardian ad Litem Program Standards, pg. 8, (Revised 2015).
See some of our finest Guardian ad Litem Program attorneys explain why our multi-disciplinary team is a model for representing children's best interests.
Also, as we approach our 40th anniversary, the National CASA/GAL Founder, Judge David Soukup, explains why the volunteers and party status are so important to children.
Please feel free to share with friends and colleagues who might consider supporting our Program.
Kristi Salyers, Esquire
Pinellas and Pasco
[Sources: Florida Guardian ad Litem Program Standards (Revised 2015); Rules Regulating Florida Bar; Rules of Professional Conduct]
fn 1 Note: The CBIs attorney-client relationship is with the GALs assigned to the individual cases, it is important to understand that when the GAL Program is appointed to represent the child and a volunteer and CAM is assigned to the case, the GAL Program is a fiduciary to the child and the CBI as the GALs attorney owes a duty of care to the child as the intended beneficiary of the appointment. Rushing v. Bosse, 652 So. 2d 869 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995). Op. Att'y Gen. Fla. 96-94 (1996).
There are many excellent on line trainings on the State of Florida Guardian ad Litem Website that you can use to enhance your knowledge as well as counting toward your annual in-service training requirement. Click here
Another resource for training that may be useful to volunteer child advocates, is the Quality Parenting Initiative Just In Time website, which provides resources and video trainings for Florida foster parents. There are many excellent video trainings that can be accessed here
A couple of months ago, I participated in a Verified Volunteers webinar entitled, "Generational Trends in Volunteer Engagement". The webinar provided some enlightening information on volunteers based on a 2018 study looking at Generational Patterns in Volunteering in 2017. Below are some of the highlights:
Traditionalists: born between 1901 - 1945 (before or during WWII). Loyalty and duty are important to them. They are willing to stay with an organization until they earn their reward. They like being on a committee within a volunteer organization. 24.8% volunteered in 2017.
Baby Boomers: born between 1946 - 1964. They seek to leave a legacy and demand more flexible time commitments. They value the chance to collaborate and partner with the volunteer organization. They desire to utilize their skills, as well as, gain new skills. Boomers were the first to be "choosy" in volunteer organizations. 30.7% volunteered in 2017.
Generation X: born 1965 - 1980. They are deeply entrepreneurial. They want to know their impact and that their time will be utilized efficiently. They also desire an opportunity for career building. 36.4% volunteered in 2017 (led the nation in volunteering).
Millennials: born 1981 - 1996. They seek to challenge the status quo. Enjoy engaging with causes to help people, rather than institutions. They have a deep connection globally and are influenced by the decisions and behaviors of peers. 28.2% volunteered in 2017.
Post Millennials (Generation Z): born 1997 - present. Many are just entering the volunteer sphere. Nearly half are a racial minority. They are the first to be raised in a mobile environment. They like to volunteer to gain work experience. Freedom is their ultimate reward. 26.1% volunteered in 2017.
So the challenge we face is how do we attract and retain volunteer child advocates (VCA) that span across all generations? It is imperative that we assess the generations which comprise our volunteers/potential volunteers. In doing so, we must make a conscientious effort to incorporate methodologies and techniques that are effective for each of the generations. For example, when communicating with Baby Boomer VCAs, we must be sure to emphasize how their skills will be utilized in this role. We should consider inviting them to share results with the community. We should make opportunities for Traditionalist VCAs to be members of committees. When engaging Gen X, emphasize future plans and how they can contribute to them. Millennials value flexibility and are hopeful, optimistic and more inclined to social activism. They also appreciate networking opportunities. And, our Post Millennials communicate largely via social media. In other words, to continue to successfully attract and retain VCAs, we must become adept at becoming Gen Mix Recruiters and Managers.
As always, each one of you is critical to helping a child reach home! If you have ideas or need collateral materials to share with the community, please don't hesitate to contact us:
Community Outreach Coordinator
6th Circuit - Pasco County
April Pinellas Child
Jennifer Edwards has been a Volunteer Child Advocate since May 2015. In that time she has advocated for 5 children on 4 cases. Jennifer's first case ended in a successful reunification and she did a great job of navigating intricate family dynamics and being a diplomatic and friendly, neutral third party. In her next case Jennifer worked with a young mother through crisis, homelessness and a domestic violence relationship. The case is still ongoing and even though the child moved out of County, Jennifer's work with the family was very beneficial. For her third case Jennifer decided to challenge herself and advocate for two teens. What an awesome match! One teen aged out but Jennifer continues to be a steady, calm and neutral advocate for the other teen. Jennifer worked well with case management to get her teen moved out of a group home and into a traditional two-parent foster home where he can get the one on one attention he needs. Jennifer always takes her teen out to fun outings such as the movies, Pollo Tropical, Baseball games, Burger King and the park to see Christmas lights but she also focuses on being part of her teen's life and has attended his 7th grade open house and an awards ceremony where her teen gave a speech. Unfortunately, last year her teen's father passed away and Jennifer was able to travel by airplane with her teen to Ohio so he could attend his father's funeral. Jennifer attends all court hearings and sometimes transports her teen to Court. In September 2018 Jennifer recruited her husband Shawn to be a Volunteer Child Advocate as well. Together, Shawn and Jennifer have not only been advocates but mentors to the kids. They recently attended their teen's birthday party at Celebration Station and shared in the festivities and joy. Jennifer and Shawn make a great team and we are so appreciative that they take the time and energy to work with our youth.
Child Advocacy Manager,
Lia Susana Rodriguez
May Pinellas Child Advocate
Suzanne Lanza has been with the Guardian ad Litem Program since 2015 and has been an amazing advocate for 10 children during that time. From the short time that I have been with the Program, I have seen the evidence of her dedication to these kids by the strong bond that she has formed with them and their caregivers, to work towards what's best for the child. Despite difficult circumstances in several cases, she has continued to be a stable presence in their lives.
Not only is she a strong presence in the children's lives, but she also works hard to be present at all staffings and JR's to ensure their voice is heard. She is also extremely responsive to communication which makes her a CAM's dream. Thank you so much for all you do, Suzanne! You are an invaluable part of my team and I am so fortunate to have you!
Child Advocacy Manager,
April Pasco Child Advocate
Lisa Crandall has been a volunteer with the Guardian ad Litem Program since May 2016. Since that time she has been an advocate for 5 cases, 1 courtesy case and numerous fill-in and first-time visits. She is a Master Guardian and has also been a mentor for new Guardians. Lisa is compassionate, kind, and has worked well with everyone involved in her cases. She is committed to all the children in her cases. Lisa is very communicative with her Child Advocacy Manager, is an active listener, eager learner, and takes great detailed notes. She assesses each situation carefully before making recommendations. Lisa is a great asset to our Program. Thank you Lisa for all your dedication, thank you for
making a positive difference in the dependency world!
Child Advocacy Manager
May Pasco Child Advocate
Charles "Chuck" Webster is a passionate child advocate volunteer. Chuck has been a volunteer with the 6th Circuit Guardian ad Litem Program in Pasco County since November 2017. When talking about Chuck and his position with the Guardian ad Litem program, the first thoughts that come to mind is "He is an amazing child advocate who will make sure the children on his case list have all their needs met!." His cases have been challenging and Chuck is not afraid to think outside of the box.
Chuck is not a person to give up when faced with difficult decisions. At one time, Chuck was advocating for two brothers to have sibling visits. He was faced with many problems and went above and beyond to make sure the brothers spent time together. Chuck would drive from one county to another and then back again, making sure the visits happened.
Recently, a child on his case list ran out of medication and Chuck was completely instrumental in getting the child's prescriptions filled. Without his perseverance the child would have waited longer, which would have been a detriment to the child's mental well-being. Chuck would not let that happen.
Chuck is a veteran and worked as a medic in the military. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Guardian ad Litem program. Additionally, he is a great volunteer and always willing to help out when needed, this includes seeing a child on short notice or help out at program functions. His dedication, along with countless other volunteers, is why this program is successful today.
Thank you Chuck for all you do for the children in our program. Our program runs better because of child advocate volunteers like you!!
Child Advocacy Manager,
June Pasco Child Advocate
Latrece came to the Guardian Program after she saw a sign at Wesley Chapel High School. She stated in her interview that she had recently taken care of her elderly mother in a nursing home in Texas, and advocacy for her mother became part of her life. Latrece became a volunteer with the Guardian ad Litem program last December, took a case right away, and hasn't stopped advocating for her little boy. Latrece began her visits out of county and followed the child back to Pasco when the child was placed with his half-sister's father. Latrece is extremely conscientious and though she works full-time, she gets releases signed for paperwork, participates in staffings, and makes sure all her child's needs are being met, does her reports on time, and is a joy to work with. Latrece is a wonderful asset to the Guardian Program and we are pleased to have her as Pasco's volunteer of the month, and as one of our "advocates" in the Dade City Office.
Jean McNary, Volunteer Team Lead
For the Children
Foster to Foster is a new resource room located at Heritage United Methodist Church, 2680 Landmark Dr, Clearwater, FL 33761. The free items are for children who are in the system, who are in foster care,
parental, relative, or non relative placement. The resource room includes gently used clothing for all ages, toys, books and hygiene items. Hours are
Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 AM-12:30 PM. Foster Parents, Case
Managers, Child Protective Investigators and GAL Volunteers or Staff can make an appointment to pick up needed items for the families they serve by contacting Kristin at 727-210-5227 or email Foster2Foster@yahoo.com
Watch the Threshers!
Spectrum Field located at
601 N. Old Coachman Rd, Clearwater. Thanks
to a generous donation by VCA, Lori Jean McNally, GALF has 4 tickets to almost every Threshers game this season. Check out the schedule here, pick a date and then
call 727-464-7171 to see if you can get up to 4 tickets for that game for you and your GAL child/ren.
Teens Workout for Free at Planet Fitness!
Teens Can Work Out For Free This Summer!
Planet Fitness is giving out free memberships to
teens 15 -18 this summer. Learn more here:
Professional Wellness Month was created to highlight the importance of well-being in the
workplace. Research shows that employee health status directly influences work behavior, attendance and on-the-job performance.
The demands placed on human service workers in supporting people through challenging circumstances can contribute to high levels of stress and burnout. Self-care practices implemented regularly may decrease the impact of the high levels of stress while also serving as strategies for coping during particularly stressful times.
Professional Wellness Strategies:
Make time to exercise, even if it means simply walking around the building during lunch.
During the week, take time to strengthen your performance at work. Take a class, workshop, or a webinar. Enhance your knowledge!
Find 30 minutes in your day to turn off the technology, get out of the hustle, and clear your mind.
Make some alone time when you get home
Turn on some mellow music and clear your mind.
Block out some time to reconnect with colleagues and friends who have experience or knowledge to share. Staying connected to your network increases your opportunities, strengthens your relationships, and keeps you current on the world around you and others experiences.
Be cognizant of what you eat. Swap the candy and chips for healthier alternatives, like nuts, fruits, vegetables and drink plenty of
to stay hydrated and maintain energy levels.
Case Managers of the Month for April/May
In the spirit of partnership, the Guardian ad Litem Program nominates a case manager from the case management agencies serving under Eckerd Community Alternatives. Please thank these case managers when you see them.
For April the case manager
from Pinellas is Diedrea Doyley from Lutheran Services. Diedrea is one of the most exceptional case mangers ever. She always has ongoing contact. Diedrea has
some very challenging cases and thanks to her outstanding communication skills, services are provided, contact maintained. It is a pleasure to work with her.
The April Pasco Case Manager is
from YFA. Mary is always communicative, responsive and always on top of everything. It is a true pleasure to work with her and know that she will call parties and ensure we all have information on our cases. She is easy to talk to and forthcoming with new information.
The May Pinellas case manager honored is Kayla Brown. She always knows what is going in with her cases and is very helpful. For May the Pasco case manager honored is Candace Fraser. She is very thorough and professional. She is very encouraging and uplifting when it is warranted. She is also direct and serious when the parents need to hear the truth She listens to all parties equally and has good ideas when faced with barriers.
The Rudderless Ship
The ship full of children is navigating in very troubled waters.
These children are someone's sons and someone's daughters,
Children with no direction and who know not where to go.
But there is a captain finally at the helm to create a good flow.
Captain Volunteer Child Advocate can
be found fore and aft.
These Advocates have steady hands and know their craft.
Thank you VCA's for guiding this ship and working toward a solution.
You are the reason why these children find successful resolution.