Kim Hann Secretary and Chair of Recruitment and Retention
Julie Tuskes Treasurer
Donna Hahn Director and Chair of the Children in Need Fund
Carey Seigle Director
To support, educate and advocate for the Guardian ad Litem program of the Florida First Judicial Circuit of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton Counties.
Provide for the needs of abused, abandoned and neglected children and support the volunteer advocates in the Guardian ad Litem program.
- Do better in school
- 50 % less likely to return to foster care
- Have fewer placements
- Receive more services
- More likely to be adopted
- Spend less time in foster care
- 32 months - average volunteer service period
- $3,397 - cost to support a GAL volunteer
- $7,474 - average cost of donated time and gas by GAL volunteer
- $4,057 - return on investment per GAL volunteer
The Children in Need Fund supports the children in the Guardian ad Litem Program of the First Judicial Circuit that includes Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, and Walton Counties. The urgent need for such support was recently reemphasized in a memo to all Circuit Directors by Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director, Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program which is partially quoted here:
"Although the state provides funding for the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program, the allocated funding historically has not been enough to fully cover all of the Program¹s needs and has not included at all children's normalcy projects and initiatives.
Therefore, while we are extremely grateful for increased legislative support, it is important to realize that the non-profits throughout the state that are the fundraising arms for their local Guardian ad Litem Programs need to continue to raise money to assure each circuit's Guardian ad Litem Program is able to serve all children in their care."
Escambia/Santa Rosa County Recruiter - Joan Irby!
Please stop in to our Pensacola, Ft Walton, Defuniak Springs, Crestview or Milton office and speak to a recruitment specialist for more information.
19 Iowa Dr NE, Fort Walton Beach, Florida 32548
Monday - Friday: 9am - 5pm
A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.
Registration # CH38134
A compelling story is about to be told. It represents both sides of the GAL program. There is an important connection between the GAL volunteers and the GAL children that they represent. Occasionally there is a very close connection between the volunteer and the child. Sometimes the volunteer was formerly a child in the program. Taken from a recent speech given at the Escambia/Santa Rosa volunteer appreciation dinner. This is Larissa Piazza's account.
The driving force behind my motivation and determination runs deep and it started many years ago with a very young girl who was a victim of child abuse and is now a survivor. Like so many kids we see today, this child experienced emotional, sexual and physical abuse. There was not a day that went by that this child didn't wish someone would come in and save her and her sister from the day-to-day terror that they dealt with. There was not a day that went by this young girl didn't think suicide was the way to freedom and peace of mind. But, no one ever came and each night she laid in bed unable to sleep for the fear of sleeping might bring death. The nightly cries and pleas of her mother begging for mercy set a vivid image into the child's mind. This girl lived in what is called survival mode, on the edge, hardly ever sleeping. She went to school exhausted and hungry most days. Despite this she always had a smile on her face. What people saw on the surface was contrary to what was going on behind closed doors. How many of us have ever walked into a bookstore as we thumb through a variety of books, you pick up a book that has no color, no illustrations, it's just blank. There's nothing exciting about it so we put the book back on the shelf and we move on to something more appealing. Now picture an image, if you will, of your average child who just went unnoticed. The child that passes by us on an everyday basis, those are the ones that need our support. They don't always have visible marks of physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Now in Middle School this young girl had an opportunity to confide to her counselor about the abuse and for once, just once, she thought her life was going to change. The heavy burden she was carrying would be lifted. The counselor reported the father who perpetrated the abuse and the young girl was introduced to a social worker, someone who should've protected her, bleeding her heart out and trusting her with a lifetime of pain and sorrow. Several weeks had gone by and the girl had forgotten about the social worker until her father showed up to school and pulled her out of class, right away she knew something wasn't right. The moment they got into the car and he drove around the corner he grabbed her seatbelt, wrapped it around her neck, pulled out a gun and pointed it at her. At the same time he continued to take the breath from her lungs he whispered in her ear -you will lie to the social worker, you will tell her you made this up. If you don't, I promise you will watch your mother and sister die a very painful death. This was only one of a hundred incidents where this child had wished he would have just pulled the trigger. Needless to say, the girl gave in and did what she was told. Her punishment was so severe that were I to share the details you would probably not believe it was for real! During her sophomore year in high school, the last and final night, this girl came home from school only to be held as a hostage, beaten and ready to give up, she and her sister laid wide awake in their beds listening to nothing. The silence, you see, silence is worse than sounds of screaming and yelling because at least with the sounds you can convince yourself that everyone is still alive. The next morning everything seemed normal, the father was gone, mother went to work and the children left for school. Later that afternoon, her mother showed up and advised the young girl not to come home. She said the father was arrested this morning, you're safe now. You probably would have guessed by now that this girl was me. ( Larissa is the mother of 3 teenagers, works full time, and a GAL volunteer).