Wednesday, Apr 6, 2016
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and as Guardians we can help raise awareness of the almost 3,000 abused and neglected children right here in our local community. No one should simply shake their head and sadly lament the horrific stories of child abuse that has rocked our state in recent years. Instead of passive despair, let these tragic incidents serve as a galvanizing call to action for us all to commit to ending abuse and securing the safety and future of every child in Pinellas and Pasco Counties and all of Florida and the nation.
This month and throughout the year, the Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Tampa Bay encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Florida a better place for children and families. By ensuring that parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help prevent child abuse and neglect by making meaningful connections with children, youth and families in our communities. April is a time to celebrate the important role that communities play in protecting children and strengthening families, and everyone’s participation is critical. Focusing on ways to connect with families is the best thing our community can do to strengthen families and prevent child abuse and neglect.
Teachers, child care workers, health care providers and others who come into daily contact with children can also be vigilant for signs of abuse and neglect. Their actions to report suspected abuse or to offer extra time and attention to fragile children can do more than make a difference. Remind those in formal roles you have relationships with that they are mandatory reporters and how they can help save lives.
In April we also celebrate National Volunteer Week-celebrating those who seek out ways to engage in their local communities. We can't do this work alone, and we are so thankful for the time, talent, and treasures that YOU-our GAL volunteers give. Guardian ad Litem child advocates put their passion for the well-being of children into action. Assigned to advocate for abused and neglected children, Guardian ad Litem volunteers make sure kids don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service systems or languish in unsupportive foster homes. Volunteers stay with children until their court case is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their GAL volunteer is the one constant adult presence in their lives. Many of our children and families may not show their appreciation often enough, but the work you do is invaluable. You make a difference in the life of a child and help make our entire community a better place. On behalf of the children and we families we serve, we thank YOU for all you do throughout the year-we couldn't do it without you!