Almost all of the teenagers who become a part of the Guardian Ad Litem program have suffered immense trauma, be that through abuse, neglect, or abandonment. When kids grow up in traumatic environments, their focus is not on learning to become well rounded, independent young adults; instead, their sole focus is simply to survive. This means that our teens often don’t get to learn, practice, or engage in everyday experiences that prepare them for growing up. 

​As the Guardian ad Litem, you play an important role in our teens lives. Not only are you their advocate, but oftentimes you are the most consistent person in their lives. Most often it will be you who is the one to see just how much help a teen needs to prepare for the all too common reality of aging out of the foster care system. 

Learning to be Independent is a program designed to provide you, the GAL volunteers, with the resources, material, and knowledge needed to help teach your teen the practical life skills they need to grow into competent, independent adults. Think back on your first experience living alone. Did you know how to cook? How to do laundry? How to schedule and keep track of medical appointments? These are skills that our parents teach us, and often they are skills that we need help with as we transition into adulthood. Laundry may seem simple, but even what we see now as the simplest of tasks, was once a new, difficult, and scary requirement of growing up. 

Within this website, you will find information regarding the following topics: 

Laundry and Appropriate Clothing 

Basic Cooking Skills and Nutrition 

Entry-Level Job Skills 

Establishing Healthy Relationships

Communication Skills and How to Be Assertive 

The In’s and Outs of College Applications and Alternative Career Options

How to find an Apartment and Basic Home Management Skills

 Money Management Skills

This website is designed with you and your teen in mind. The training modules contained in this website were created to provide you with a starting point on how to address some of these important, everyday skills our teens need to be successful as they go out into the world on their own.


Each of these modules was created with the following goals in mind: 

  1. Provide necessary life skills information to teenagers currently residing in the dependency system to better prepare them for independence. 
  2. Provide GAL volunteers with comprehensive and easily accessible information to limit the burden of work. 
  3. Provide various forms of information to cater to different learning styles to foster optimal learning engagement and retention. 
  4. Create an opportunity for GAL volunteers and their teenagers to engage together in learning opportunities and activities to foster trusting relationships.

For any questions or concerns, please email shannon.hendrix@gal.fl.gov. Any feedback is appreciated, so please fill out the Feedback/Review survey to let us know how we can improve!