Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director of the Florida Statewide Guardian Ad Litem Office, is “for the child.” Raised in a family passionate about public service, Abramowitz served in the military before ultimately pursuing a degree in law. Once Alan had graduated with his Juris Doctorate, it was only natural that his dedication to community service encouraged him to commit to a career of advocacy. While serving as a public defender for children, Abramowitz’s commitment to fostering brighter futures within the court room perked his interest in the management side of child services. Motivated by his passion for youth advocacy, Alan sought a Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Central Florida; and accepted a position within the Department of Children and Families (DCF) upon completing his education in 2000.
Ten years of service with DCF later, Alan Abramowitz has participated in all aspects of child advocacy- positions ranging from case manager to State Director. In recognition of Alan Abramowitz’s unyielding dedication to Florida’s children, Governor Charlie Crist appointed Alan as the Executive Director of the GAL program in 2010- a position he has since been reappointed to twice by Governor Scott.
The Florida Guardian Ad Litem program is a group of 10,000 volunteers, all dedicated to supporting the child’s best interests during permanency and foster placement proceedings. When children are unable to live with their parents any longer and social services must step in, a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) is assigned by the court to stand up for the child. GAL’s listen to children, impacting better educational, reunification, and permanency outcomes by making recommendations to judges and social services in the child’s interest. Florida’s GALs act as support, mentors, and occasionally, even adoptive parents for Florida’s at-risk and neglected kids.
As part of their advocacy efforts, the Guardian Ad Litem program recommends key solutions to policies impacting Florida’s foster children to our elected officials. Among these policies is the 2013 “Let Kids be Kids” Law. Promoted by Alan Abramowitz, this bill grants foster parents the ability to make every-day parenting decisions on behalf of their foster child. Where foster children once used to have to obtain permission from their case manager for simple activities like going on a field trip, or riding in a car with their GAL, this 2013 policy allows children to just be kids.
Most recently, Mr. Abramowitz and the GAL program have worked with state legislators on policies such as Senate Bill 60 “Keys to Independence”, the “Walk in the Park” Senate Bill 64, and House Bill 151 “Therapy Dogs in Court”. Under these bills, which help establish normalcy by granting the ability for teens to get their driver’s license, enjoy outdoor activities common to their peers, and receive emotional support during testimony, Florida’s Guadian ad Litems are shaking up positive change for children across the state.
“Our future is nonpartisan, and our children need advocates.”
Looking forward, Alan Abramowitz admits that elected officials must come together to work on nonpartisan policy for children. For too long, the political system has ignored the needs of at-risk children. Among his recommendations, Abramowitz hopes to see legislators come together on policy that grants children in the system the right to legal aid- specifically youth who are victims of human trafficking, live in nursing homes or locked treatment facilities, and who suffer from a disability.
The largest issue impacting Florida’s youth however, is the lack of support for fostering. Florida’s foster care rates are rising; but the number of placements available, as well as the number of mentors and GAL’s who advocate for youth, are not. To continue supporting and empowering the next generation, Florida needs individuals determined to make a difference, who are for the child, to step up. All it takes is one person, one mentor, parent, or Guardian ad Litem, to be the change that changes a child’s life today.
Individuals interested in becoming a Guardian Ad Litem, and adding their voice to those who stand for the child, can go to guardianadlitem.org for more information