Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability
Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability

Justice Administrative Commission

Guardian ad Litem Program

What is the purpose of the program?

Florida statutes require the appointment of a guardian ad litem in specified legal situations, including dependency cases. The Guardian Ad Litem program was initially established in Florida in 1980 under the jurisdiction of the courts. In 2004, the statewide Guardian Ad Litem Office was created to provide infrastructure to and standardization among the local programs.  

The statewide Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program consists of staff and volunteers in 21 local programs.

How is the program administered?

The statewide Guardian ad Litem Office has oversight responsibility for, and provides technical assistance to, all local guardian ad litem programs. Responsibilities include collecting, reporting, and tracking reliable case data; reviewing the programs in Florida and in other states; developing statewide performance measures and standards; and developing a training program.

When is a GAL appointed?

Florida law requires the appointment of a guardian ad litem
  • in all criminal cases in which there are charges of abuse, neglect, or abandonment or a child is a witness to a sexual offense committed against a minor;
  • in all dependency cases in which a child is the victim of abuse, neglect, or abandonment; and
  • in dissolution/custody cases involving verified allegations of abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

What does a GAL do?

 The guardian ad litem in a dependency case carries out the following activities.

  • Gathers information from the child, relevant records, and interviews with people in the child's life. 
  • Regularly visits the child in their home environment.
  • Provides thorough, up-to-date information and recommendations to the court on the child's best interests throughout the proceeding.

What is the performance of the program?

In Fiscal Year 2019-20, the Guardian ad Litem program represented an average of 23,876 children in Florida and certified 2,016 new volunteers.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2021-22
Fund Salary Rate/ Position General Revenue Trust Funds
SALARY RATE
POSITIONS
SALARIES AND BENEFITS
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM GRANTS AND DONATIONS TRUST FUND
OTHER PERSONAL SERVICES
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM GRANTS AND DONATIONS TRUST FUND
EXPENSES
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM GRANTS AND DONATIONS TRUST FUND
OPERATING CAPITAL OUTLAY
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM GRANTS AND DONATIONS TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
GRANTS AND AIDS - COURT SYSTEM SERVICES FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
CONTRACTED SERVICES
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
FROM GRANTS AND DONATIONS TRUST FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
RISK MANAGEMENT INSURANCE
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
GUARDIAN AD LITEM ATTORNEY TRAINING
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
LEASE OR LEASE-PURCHASE OF EQUIPMENT
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
SPECIAL CATEGORIES
TRANSFER TO DEPARTMENT OF MANAGEMENT SERVICES - HUMAN RESOURCES SERVICES PURCHASED PER STATEWIDE CONTRACT
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
DATA PROCESSING SERVICES
OTHER DATA PROCESSING SERVICES
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
DATA PROCESSING SERVICES
NORTHWEST REGIONAL DATA CENTER (NWRDC)
FROM GENERAL REVENUE FUND
TOTAL
55,632,684
565,878

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

Due Process Services, Report 19-18, December 2019

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports
Annual Reports, Florida Guardian ad Litem Program.

Websites of Interest
National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)
Performance Information
Performance measures and standards for the department may be found in its Long Range Program Plan.

What are the applicable statutes?

Chapter 39 Part XI, Florida Statutes.

Whom do I contact for help?

 Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program, 850-922-7213

 Website