On Saturday, May 7, 2022, the Anna Maria Island Kiwanis Club welcomed its guest speaker, Toni Jefferies, Community Engagement & Volunteer Recruitment for Guardian Ad Litem.
Guardian Ad Litem is a non-profit organization of volunteers that work with children that have been removed from parents by the courts & placed in safer environments. Fifty-two percent of the children are under the age of 5 and all children age out of the system at 18. In Manatee County, there are approximately 800 children needing care; as removal from the parents creates acute trauma for the child. Guardian Ad Litem volunteers work directly with the children to ease that as much as possible by developing a relationship with the child & visiting them at least monthly in their new home.
Volunteers are carefully screened and undergo 30 hours of training prior to being assigned a child. To be a volunteer advocate one must possess compassion & empathy; awareness/perspective, willingness to learn, ability to advocate for children’s basic and immediate needs, able to volunteer 10-15 hours a month, at least 21 years old and must commit to at least two years.
“Advocating for the child’s best interest is the Program’s only purpose.” The volunteers are an independent set of eyes and ears for the courts. As part of a multi-disciplinary team, they work to protect children by ensuring: safety & emotional wellbeing, needed services are provided, interests of the child are expressed in court, education needs are met & permanency.
Children’s Guardian Fund is the supporting charity that helps meet basic needs of traumatized children & add “normalcy” to their lives. The gifts to the Charity are tax deductible & the money is spent in your community. Contributions may be money or other items such as laptops. For more information, visit their website https://guardianadlitem.org
During May 2022, the Club will continue to meet every Saturday. Starting in June, the Club will meet monthly.
2022 Summer Schedule of Meetings: June 25, July 30, August 27
The Club will resume meetings every week starting September 10, 2022