Florida’s Guardian ad Litem program is asking the legislature for funding to reimburse its volunteers, who travel hundreds of miles for the abused and neglected kids they advocate for.
According to Florida Guardian ad Litem Executive Director Alan Abramowitz, it’s not unheard of for a child put in the foster care system to not live in the county they were initially removed from. And, he says that can make it harder—for example—for an assigned Guardian ad Litem volunteer in South Florida to travel to a child in the Panhandle. And, Abramowitz says there are other more unique examples as well.
“The Barahona case where the child [Nubia Barahona] was murdered and tortured,” he said, speaking recently to the House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee. “They had a sibling [Victor Barahona], and the sibling went to another state. That [GAL] volunteer had a connection with that older sibling. We actually decided to take from our own revenues or the Guardian ad Litem foundation, so they could fly to visit that kid every month, since it was that important.”
That’s why Abramowitz says he’s asking the Florida legislature for $330,000 to reimburse Guardian ad Litem volunteers for unique travel expenses. Since January of this year, about half of the state’s guardian ad litem volunteers have driven 1.7 million miles.
Meanwhile, Abramowitz is also seeking $1 million for “Baby court,” also known as Early Childhood Court. That funding is expected to go toward helping advocate on behalf of kids age 0 to 3.
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