The Guardian Newsletter
May 2019
Dear Friends and Colleagues:

I am honored to serve as the new chair of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Florida’s First Coast, Inc. I am so grateful for the staff and volunteers who work directly with our children in the Fourth Judicial Circuit. My fellow board members and I support Guardian ad Litem by raising awareness about its programs. We raise funds so children can have items and opportunities that bring normalcy to their lives. The little things can mean so much.

The board is working with GAL staff and volunteers on a strategic plan that will help us set important priorities, focus energy and resources, and strengthen operations so we are all working toward common goals as we assess and adjust the direction in response to a changing environment.

I invite you to learn more about Guardian ad Litem. After reading our newsletter, I hope you will volunteer with our organization or donate to make a difference in a child’s life.

Working together, we will continue to grow stronger and fulfill critical needs of children in the Fourth Judicial Circuit.
Our Advocacy Team at Work
Our staff and volunteers work hard to be the voice for our children. They visit them at home and at school. They make recommendations that help them reach permanency. For example, our team pursued a termination of parental rights on a case rather than waiting until the case plan expired. If no action had been taken, the child would have waited an additional six months before having a permanent home.  

The Guardian ad Litem Program argued that the case plan goal should be changed to adoption despite the fact that other parties were not in agreement. The court found both parents in material breach of the case plan and changed the goal to adoption. Prior to the advisory hearing, the Department of Children and Families filed a notice that it would not be filing for Termination of Parental Rights at that time because representatives believed the parents still had enough time to substantially comply with the case plan. The Guardian ad Litem Program filed a Termination of Parental Rights petition alleging that both parents had abandoned the child and materially breached their case plans. The child was placed with his grandparents for adoption.

We appreciate our Advocacy Team for fighting for timely permanency for this child and not allowing the case plan expiration date to stop us from pursuing what was best for this child! Outstanding work!
Volunteer Highlight - Tina Dyal
Tina Dyal has been a volunteer with the Guardian ad Litem Program since January 2018. She is effective in her advocacy, provides consistency to the children on her cases and always handles herself in a professional manner. 

Tina maintains frequent contact with her child advocate manager, writes detailed and thorough court reports and puts a lot of thought into the recommendations she makes. One of her cases was ending with a child being reunified with his mother and the child’s sibling closing to permanent guardianship with a relative.

Tina made sure the siblings kept in contact. Thanks to her hard work, the court accepted the Guardian ad Litem’s recommendation in regards to this and the case was closed. 
New Staff Members
Jennifer Leland
Assistant Child Advocate Manager
Clay County
Eshauna Durham
Child Advocate Manager
Duval County
Sonya Sutter
Senior Child Advocate Manager
Clay County
Stephen Stirks
Child Advocate Manager
Duval County
Bryan Blazek
Administrative Specialist
Duval County
2018 Fourth Quarter Awards
Volunteer of the Quarter: Paulette Valla
Duval County 
Employee of the Quarter:
Amber Speers
Senior Best Interest Attorney for Clay County 
2018 Volunteer of the Year: Marc Banghart
Duval County
Guardian ad Litem recruiters and volunteers are out in the community. From car shows to the fair to neighborhood meetings, we offer opportunities for you to get involved!

Would you be our GALentine? It was a special Valentine treat for our volunteers at the GAL Open House. They interacted with our staff. Our staff members learned more about them. It was a fun day for all.
What a great night! The Young Professionals of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Florida's First Coast, Inc. held its inaugural Happy Hour on April 4. They held the fundraiser to benefit GAL programs and services for abandoned, abused and neglected children in the Fourth Judicial Court.

In case you missed it, our young professionals discussed this great event on River City Live. Please click here to watch the interview.
We had a blast at our Volunteer Appreciation Night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. This was great opportunity to show our volunteers how much we appreciate all they do to help and support our children. Please visit our social media sites to take a look at the fun we had!

We also want to thank all of our volunteers for their time and dedication. Please click here to view a list of anniversaries for our wonderful volunteers!
Guardian ad Litem
214 North Hogan St., 6th Floor
 Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 255-8440