Justice Administrative Commission

Guardian ad Litem Program

What is the purpose of the program?

The Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program consists of volunteers in 21 local programs who are appointed by the court to act as advocates for children in specified legal situations.

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; developing a training program; reviewing various funding sources; and developing methods to improve delivery of program services. The statewide Guardian ad Litem Office is an independent entity within the Justice Administrative Commission.

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.
  • Collects comprehensive information about the child and family, attends Department of Children and Families meetings about the case, and takes steps to further the child's best interests.
  • Regularly visits the child in his or her home environment.
  • Makes recommendations to the court as to the child's best interests and informs the court of the child's wishes.
  • Provides reports and recommendations to the court to assist judges in decisions about placement, visitation, termination of parental rights, and adoption.

What is the performance of the program?

In Fiscal Year 2018-19, the Guardian ad Litem program represented an average of 24,949 children in Florida needing representation and certified 2,366 new volunteers.

How are these activities funded?

Fiscal Year: 2020-21
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
53,077,257
458,004

Updates

Child Welfare.   Chapter 2020-43, Laws of Florida, requires specified child welfare professionals, circuit and county judges who have responsibility for dependency cases, Guardian ad Litem program staff, and law enforcement officers to receive training developed on the recognition of and response to head trauma and brain injury in children under six years old.    

Where can I find related OPPAGA reports?

Due Process Services, Report 19-18, December 2019

Where can I get more information?

Other Reports
2019 Annual Report, Florida Guardian ad Litem Program.
Program Standards, Florida Guardian ad Litem Program.
Performance Advocacy Snapshot and Reports, Florida Guardian ad Litem Program.
Websites of Interest
Florida Guardian ad Litem Foundation
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?

Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director, Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program, 850-922-7213

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