Rotary Happenings: Rotarians hear of Guardian ad Litem Foundation’s work
The number alone is staggering. More than 700 children in Lee County are in foster care, relative/non-relative care or shelters. With so many children in the system, some are bound to fall between the cracks. However, Jessica Stanfield, executive director of the Guardian ad Litem Foundation for the 20th Judicial Circuit — formerly known as Voices for Kids of Southwest Florida — is working hard to make sure that does not happen.
Stanfield brings solid experience in fundraising, public relations, marketing and communications management to the role as she spoke to the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club about how she works with the recruitment, training, retention and support of volunteers to serve as Guardian ad Litem advocates for Southwest Florida’s abused, neglected and abandoned children.
Advocates work together to help meet the needs of each child. They become a stable presence in the child’s life during a very tumultuous period, sometimes being the only constant adult in a revolving door of case managers, foster homes, judges and lawyers. The advocate helps to be sure the necessary services are in place for each child and helps to navigate the red tape of the system in the hopes of achieving a permanent safe solution to the child’s situation as quickly as possible.
The Guardian ad Litem team helps to be sure each child has everything he or she can to succeed in life, starting with what may seem like small things to you and I, but to struggling children, these things may give them a sense of deserved normalcy, things such as music and dance classes, sports, summer camps and computers. The advocates also work to ensure that teens aging out of the system have a place to live, a job or educational program to continue on with and the things they need to live independently.
To learn more about the Guardian ad Litem Foundation, visit voicesforkids.org.
The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club holds a meeting on Fridays at 7:30 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel, and via Zoom. To attend in person, email Bill Harkey at William.Harkey@gmail.com; attendance is limited to 20 people. To take part via Zoom, call 239-472-7257. For more information, visit sanibelrotary.org or www.facebook.com/sancaprotary.