Everyone knows the adage “children should be seen and not heard.” For me, that is farthest from the truth. Our children need to be heard. Being heard doesn’t mean that they get what they want. It means they learn their voices matter and with time and guidance they can control their destiny.
It is the voices of our children, especially those in the child welfare, who need someone else to speak up for them, for their voices can be drowned out by the chaos around them.
For 35 years, the Guardian ad Litem program has ensured the voices of thousands of abused and neglected children are heard. These children’s voices and interests can get lost in the fray. They are caught in a situation beyond their control.
Guardian ad Litems are ordinary people who have decided that they will stand up for these children. The Guardian volunteer is the child’s strongest advocate and voice. They are the ones making sure they don’t get lost, making sure each child knows they are not alone and they are heard.
Over 10,000 people throughout Florida have taken on the challenge of being a child’s voice and advocate. They are all for the child. And because they are, Florida’s children are better taken care of. Half of those who have a Guardian will not cycle back into the system. According to national CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) statistics, children with a Guardian are more likely not only to stay in school, but to excel in it. Ds turn into Bs. Most of all, our children are more likely to find a forever family.
I once met a young man. He saw I was part of the program and he hugged me. He said, “Thank you. Because of my Guardian I’m graduating college this month, something I never thought was in my future. My Guardian gave me one.”
That is what the Guardian tries to do, give our children the future they deserve. It is not always easy. It takes heart, patience, time and dedication. It is dealing with sometimes the worse society has to offer. But it is worth it because we are able to help and care for the best part of society – our children. Every child is a gift; Guardians ensure every child feels like one.
The job is not done until every child is represented by a Guardian. I encourage anyone who wants to make a difference to volunteer with the program. Thousands of children still need your voice.
For more information, please visit www.gal2.org or call (850) 606-1213. I am for the child. Join me.
2nd Judicial Circuit
Guardian ad Litem program