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.

# # #

Written by yvonne.marrone

September 2019 Newsletter

The Guardian Globe
13th circuit GAL Program
Hello Volunteers!
As a Guardian ad Litem, our role is to advocate for children’s best interests.
Of course, a vital part of that role is being well informed and knowledgeable
about the children and families that we work with. The most important part is
making sure that we are visiting our kids monthly. Without visiting our kids, it’s
nearly impossible to advocate in and outside of the courtroom for the child’s best
interests. Of course, you will recall your initial GAL training where we also talked
about the importance of documenting the visits in Optima!!
Optima was recently updated to include new contact methods, so be sure that you are accurately reflecting how you contacted your child! Now, the contact methods include:
Face to Face (Child Not Present or Child Present), Email, Phone, Written, Text Message, and Video Call (Child Not Present or Child Present). These updates will ensure that we have an accurate record of the contacts you are making throughout your case.  We all know that plans change and things happen, so if something comes up and you are not able to visit your kids, please let your CAM know right away so they can make other arrangements. Visiting our kids is really the best part of the job!

Thank you for all of your help in making sure that we provide excellent advocacy for our kids!

Written by yvonne.marrone

July 2019 Newsletter

Need to knows for every Volunteer Child Advocate to help you make a difference.

  • Court Hearings Made Simple
  • School Supply Kick Off with the Buccaneers
  • Yard Signs are Available NOW!

All of this and more can be found in our July 2019 Newsletter.

Don’t forget to check out this great video, Moving Toward Hope.   The video is a collaborative effort between Voices for Children, The Heart Gallery of Tampa Bay and The Guardian ad Litem Program.



July 2019

Written by yvonne.marrone

March 2019 Newsletter

Want to know what is happening?  Check out all the latest news in the Newsletter!

Being a Volunteer Child Advocate is hard work!  Our Staff appreciates all you do each and every day, you make coming to work an adventure!  Thanks for thinking outside the box and wanting better for the children you work with!

March 2019

Written by yvonne.marrone

February 2019 Newsletter

Don’t miss out on any of this great information!  You are making a difference for the children that you are advocating for and we couldn’t do it without you!!

February 2019

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