Written by yvonne.marrone

Guardian ad Litem adds new Hospital SWAT Team for the care of hospitalized children.

The GAL Hospital SWAT Team is an elite team of fully-trained Guardian ad Litem volunteers, who specialize in
visiting hospitalized children sheltered due to physical abuse and neglect. This team is unique to the 13th Judicial Circuit and
provides comfort through visitation, supplies (blankets, clothing and other necessary supplies not provided by the hospital) and
documents clinical findings to advocate for these children in court.

For additional information, contact Katie McCarey, Master Guardian ad Litem, Email: katiemccarey@gmail.com

Written by yvonne.marrone

February 2021 Newsletter – Voices Chosen by Jane Seymour’s Open Hearts Foundation

We are happy to announce a few great initiatives with Voices for Children as well! Last year, they received a grant from the Open Hearts Foundation (ran by actress, Jane Seymour). They have chosen Voices for Children as 1 of 4 recipients nationwide to participate in an event where their volunteers would write an encouraging note to a child or caregiver in your case.  If your child or caregiver could use a little pick me up, please fill out the request form by clicking here. The deadline is March 10, so act quickly!


February 2021
Written by yvonne.marrone

Voices for Children is one of the Top 200 finalists in the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Grant Program

September 2020

Voices for Children is one of the Top 200 finalists in the State Farm Neighborhood Assist Grant Programs and we are SO EXCITED! We were selected from 2,000 submissions BUT now we NEED YOUR HELP!

40 grants for $25,000 will be awarded on November 4th and YOUR VOTES will help decide which causes will win! The voting phase is open from 12:00:01 a.m. ET on September 23rd until October 2nd at 11:59:59 p.m. ET. People can vote EVERY DAY, up to 10 votes/day with just one click! Please help Voices for Children and the Guardian ad Litem Program secure these much needed funds. It’s a quick and EASY one time sign up. They will ask for your name, DOB (because you must be 18 years of age) and email in order to set up a password (they won’t use your info – we confirmed). After that, if you use the same de-vice, it’s just one click from there on out. Such a fun and easy way to make a big difference for our foster kids!! You can access our direct link and VOTE here:


All of the funds we receive will directly support the GAL Program in Hillsborough County, so we can continue to help YOU promote the education, health, and emotional well-being of the children you serve. Every child deserves the chance to feel like a kid and TOGETHER we can make the different in the life of a child! Thank you for your unwavering dedication to our children in need!

Written by yvonne.marrone

August Newsletter

August 2020


Advocating for your GAL child in the School System – Although you may not be able to make educational decisions for you GAL child, your communication and knowledge of their educational needs ensures their needs are not overlooked especially for our children who can move schools multiple times a year.

Written by yvonne.marrone

July 2020 Newsletter – Highlights

July 2020

Recruitment Corner:

Our program is doing something fun to show our united volunteers across the state. We invite you to join in! The goal is to have all 10,000+ volunteers and staff post something similar on their Facebook page to raise awareness on July 27th. Sometime on Monday July 27th, please consider posting the following:
“The best part about being a Guardian ad Litem is ___________________. #makeadifferencetochildren”.
Feel free to post what it is that you enjoy about being a Guardian ad Litem, or a selfie, a photo of your badge… etc. Please do not post any photos of the chil-dren on your case or any identifying information.

From our perspective, the best part of being a Guardian ad Litem is being able to work with all of you, and seeing your passion for child welfare. We are so much better together! If you’re interested in being part of one of the largest social media movements of the GAL Program, set a reminder to post on your social media on July 27th!
Recruitment Corner

Notes from Voices For Children:

VFC feels very fortunate that donations are still rolling in despite this difficult time!
We have received a very special donation of New Balance shoes from the Florida Division of the Salvation
Army, ranging in size 12 kids to a 5 adult.
We also continue to receive diapers from the Junior League Diaper Bank as well. If
your child is in need of a new pair of shoes or diapers, please contact Dayle at [email protected]
vfcgal.org or Jennifer at jstarr@vfcgal.org. We will be coordinating a distribution
plan that will be safe and easy for all involved.
As always, please feel free to continue submitting specific requests through your CAM.
VFC is here to support your very important efforts as a Guardian ad Litem Volunteer
and we appreciate your time and commitment.


Upcoming Training Opportunities:

Tuesday, 8/11 at Noon
Building Strong Relationships with Teens. Presented by the GAL Teen Team

Tuesday, 8/18 6-7pm
Volunteer Support Group. Learn about the GAL program updates and seek support from other Volunteers!

Thursday, 8/24 4-6pm
Beyond the Bruises– A presentation about how to create an Domestic Violence informed child welfare system.

Thursday, 9/10 at Noon
Trauma: How does it impact our children and how can we help?
Join Dr. Marlene Bloom as she discusses how trauma impacts our children and what we, as GALs, can do to advocate
more effectively. Dr. Bloom suggests reading “They Boy who was Raised as a Dog” by Bruce Perry prior to the
training. This book is available here if you would like to read it. Note that the book does discuss difficult topics. If
you are uncomfortable reading the book, you may still participate in the training.

Written by yvonne.marrone

Guardian ad Litem office to be closed for 30 days beginning Monday, March 16, 2020

Due to concerns regarding, COVID-19 (Coronavirus) the Guardian ad Litem Program Office in Hillsborough County will be closed beginning on Monday, March 16, 2020.   The following precautions have been put in place for staff and volunteers:

1.) In-person visits with children are discouraged – The GAL Program is encouraging all volunteers to visit children by phone, video chat, or other means if at all possible during this 30-day period. If circumstances necessitate a face-to-face visit, please request permission from your CAM, who will need permission from senior management, before making the visit.
2.) All staff will be working from home – The office will be closed to the public for the next 30 days. If you need to speak with your CAM or attorney, please use email or phone contact to communicate.
3.) Court hearings will be covered as needed – Attorneys and CAMs will be covering court. Volunteers are discouraged from attending court unless your presence is absolutely mandatory (e.g. trials).
4.) All in-services, support groups, brown bag lunches, and other face-to-face gatherings are cancelled – We will re-commence these events in mid-April, once the threat of rapid spread of infection has dissipated.
5.) All statewide GAL events are cancelled – If you registered for the GAL symposium, it will be rescheduled. You will get notice of your hotel reservation cancellation.

If you have any questions about how to best continue to advocate for the child(ren) under your care during this time, please do not hesitate to reach out to your CAM, to me, or to our circuit director, Tabitha Lambert, at Tabitha.lambert@gal.fl.gov. Thanks for your cooperation in helping us do our part to keep our community safer!

Written by yvonne.marrone

Team Lorne joins the Guardian ad Litem Family!

February 2020

Well, it’s official!

Voices For Children welcomes our second Courthouse Facility Dog, Lorne.  And, we are so excited for all the wonderful things Lorne and his Handler Dayle Urquhart are going to do for the precious children they will serve. Thank you to Canine Companions for Independence for a beautiful graduation ceremony.  Thanks,  Dayle for all of your hard work and dedication!!  Welcome Team Lorne to the Guardian ad Litem Family!!


Written by yvonne.marrone

January Newsletter

January Newsletter

Planning for Permanency from the Beginning by Rick Dragotto, Esquire

Check out Rick’s answers to these important questions

“Well how do I know if the parent is going to comply with their case plan or what the ultimate permanency goal should be?”

“Was dad an active participant in the parenting class?”

“Did mom sleep in the back or whisper “lies” throughout the course?” or

“Do they use techniques they learned in the parenting class to redirect the child?

Most importantly make sure that you are working your case Planning for Permanency from the Beginning!

Written by Sharon Beningfield

Moving Toward Hope

September 26, 2019                                                               Contact:  Tabitha Lambert, Guardian ad Litem Circuit Director 813-272-5110

“Moving Toward Hope”

Tampa, FL – A garbage bag. It’s handed to you and you’re told to put all your belongings in it. Do it quickly and then get ready to leave. That’s the scenario many children face in the foster care system, and it can be one that is faced several times in a short time span. To bring attention to the thousands of children in the Tampa Bay area seeking a permanent, loving home, several groups came together to create a public service video, Moving Toward Hope.

To heighten awareness of the children hoping for adoption, and reach out for advocates to encourage and speak for foster children, a collaborative effort was created, and funding secured through a grant from the Hobbs Foundation. The Heart Gallery of Tampa, Voices for Children (supporter and partner of the Guardian ad Litem program in Hillsborough), and No Off Switch productions developed a visual way to speak to the community. The multiple placements, and the hope, of these children can be seen at www.movingtowardhope.org

Children enter the foster care system after having been abused, abandoned or neglected. Hillsborough County has more children in the dependency system than any other part of Florida, with the combined count of Pinellas and Pasco Counties following as a close second. It’s a race that area agencies would love to fall behind in.

“We were in need of an urgent and captivating message to draw attention to our brave children waiting in foster care with hopes of finding their forever family,” said Heart Gallery of Tampa Executive Director Amanda Page-Zwierko. “The partnership of the Heart Gallery, Voices for Children, and No Off Switch, along with the generosity of the Hobbs Foundation, has produced a quick, but lingering message about our children,” added Tabitha Lambert, Circuit Director, Hillsborough County Guardian ad Litem Program. The video is supported by a targeted digital campaign which has already brought in new interest to adoption orientations and Guardian ad Litem information sessions.


Heart Gallery of Tampa raises awareness of waiting foster children, engages the community in their welfare, and secures permanent, loving adoptive families. This is often done through video profiles which No Off Switch productions has made possible for many years. The Guardian ad Litem program and Voices for Children train and support advocates to encourage children and provide a voice for them in court. The Hobbs Foundation promotes social responsibility by providing funding opportunities to non-profit organizations supporting abused, abandoned and neglected children in the Tampa Bay community.

# # #

1 2 3