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Florida Guardian Ad Litem Program Seeks Funding For 'Unique Travels' To Help Kids

MGN Online

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.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.