Non-profit Spotlight: Florida’s Guardian ad Litem Program

Non-profit Spotlight: Florida’s Guardian ad Litem Program

Speak Up For Children in the Tenth Judicial Circuit, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit formed to further the work of the Guardian ad Litem Program. Each circuit in the state of Florida is supported by their own local non-profit. The time and money contributed by the non-profit is essential to successfully meet the needs of the children they represent.

Everyday we see news stories about children taken from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. We assume there must be a program or system that will take care of these children and make sure they are safe and well cared for.

There is a story behind the story that few people speak about. It is the story of a 6-year-old girl who has been moved to six different homes and three schools over the past two years. The story of a toddler separated from her brothers and sisters during the most vulnerable time in her life. The story of a child being handed all his belongings in a plastic bag at the age of 18, because he has “aged out” of the system.

These stories can have a better ending because of the trained volunteers who work together with professional staff providing a powerful voice on behalf of Florida’s abused and neglected children.

Guardians come from all walks of life. They are people who believe society has a fundamental obligation to these children and the children have the right to be treated with dignity, to be safe and to thrive in a loving family.

The guardian becomes a friend, mentor, or that special someone who cares. Guardians visit the children and their parents, as well as gathering information by speaking to their teachers, doctors, and extended family members.

The Guardian ad Litem Program makes fact-based recommendations to the court, about what they believe is in the best interest of the children.

Do you want to make a difference in the life of a hurting child? Children are waiting for you. In Polk County there are currently almost 1,500 children that have been removed from their homes. For more information, to volunteer, or donate, please call Diane Schmelz at 863-534-2547 or go to Donations can be mailed to Speak Up For Children, c/o Guardian ad Litem Program, 205 E. Main Street, Bartow, Fla. 33830.