Guardian ad Litem
Volunteering to protect children
Children hurt by abuse, neglect or abandonment need help to survive and succeed. What we do for our children today is a valuable investment in our future.
Every day, Florida's Guardian ad Litem volunteers represent the best interests of our state's most vulnerable children, bringing important information about them to judges. GALs help guide vital decisions about proper planning and safe placements.
The GAL program is managed by a staff in each of Florida's 20 judicial circuits who recruit, train and supervise volunteer citizen advocates. Each GAL advocate is a member of a team with a staff supervisor and program attorney who protects the child's legal interests.
Florida is celebrating a milestone, reaching a goal of 10,000 volunteers, highest in the nation. But there are still many children who need someone who will speak up for them.
The Guardian ad Litem Foundation promotes public awareness for volunteer recruitment so we can reach out to guarantee the commitment of more volunteers for children. In addition, we develop statewide partnerships for launching innovative programs to support foster parents and promote adoptions.
We applaud Gov. Rick Scott for his recent reappointment of Alan Abramowitz as executive director of the statewide GAL Program. Under Alan's six years as leader, we have doubled our volunteer advocate force. We are grateful, as well, for the support of the Legislature.
The public and private sector partnership established by the GAL Program and GAL Foundation is a cost-effective, accountable and remarkable source of investment in Florida's children. It is an investment all Floridians should consider making. As I know from personal experience, you will be impressed by the positive return reflected in the faces of the children we serve.
To learn about the Guardian ad Litem Foundation's mission, visit www.flgal.org.
Lori Duarte-Roberts, Miami
The writer is volunteer chairwoman of the Florida Guardian ad Litem Foundation.
Key to a strong economy
In a state exceptionally dependent on its tourism industry to produce a robust economy, we cannot afford to play games with our water and environment. Doing so would not only discourage potential visitors but could pose immediate danger to the livelihoods of Florida residents.
Protecting Florida's environment isn't just an "environmental concern" — it's a major economic one.
Small businesses along the gulf and across the state will incur major losses if reckless activities like fracking damage our environment, with Florida's workers supporting our most important industry — tourism — standing to lose the most.
Tourists can always find a new spring break destination, but for Florida residents, and especially those who work in the tourism and service industries, their change of scenery won't be so picturesque.
On Wednesday, people from all across the state will trek to Tallahassee to raise their voices to the Legislature in support of a statewide fracking ban, to promote clean water, and to advocate for a shift toward renewable energy — a rapidly increasing industry with the potential to create thousands of jobs in Florida.
Drake Castaneda, Tallahassee
Is state up to the job of protecting environment? | March 18
Protect our air and water
Times reporter Craig Pittman's story on the decimation of our state's Department of Environmental Protection should concern all Floridians. This is the agency that's charged with protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink.
As Pittman reported, the DEP's enforcement cases have plummeted, and experienced regulators have been forced out of their jobs.
We know from representing citizen groups in environmental litigation all over the state that people are passionate about air and clean water and they are dismayed that the state is backing off on protecting the environment that makes Florida famous. Keep up the good reporting.
Tania Galloni, Earthjustice, Tallahassee
American Health Care Act
Promise of coverage for all
The recent estimate from the Congressional Budget Office that 24 million people will lose health care coverage under the American Health Care Act is distressing. Any loss of coverage is contrary to the promises of the president and a step back for our country. The bill as written stands to harm the most vulnerable members of our community. Cuts to Medicaid and solely age-based tax credits will not solve the problems associated with the Affordable Care Act, and if Republicans could get over their hatred for that legislation and work on fixing it we could move in a better direction.
Low-income older citizens will lose money from the cuts to subsidies, and Florida's poorest citizens have been suffering since the state failed to expand Medicaid. In a world where being born poor defines almost every experience you have and every opportunity or lack thereof, we can and must do more.
Christian Gowan, DeLand
Mandates are nothing new | March 15, letter
Mandates and choices
This letter made a false comparison of mandates for health care coverage being no different than mandates on car insurance or homeowners insurance. There is no comparison. I can choose to rent a home or apartment and I don't have to buy homeowners insurance. I can choose public transportation over car ownership and there is no mandate that I must buy car insurance. Buying these types of insurance plans is totally dependent on my choice to own a car or home.
I have no choice when it comes to a health insurance mandate. There are logical points on both sides of the health care argument, but this is not one of them.
Larry Whitehead, Wimauma