Voices for Florida Keys Children, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that originally began as the Guardian ad Litem Guild over 20 years ago, and operates with an all volunteer staff to assist the 380 Monroe County children dependent upon the legal system at any given time. The Voices mission is to assist the Guardian ad Litem in representing abused, abandoned and neglected children in the Florida Keys by providing financial assistance for the accompanying health, educational and social needs of the children in its care.
Voices provides emergency clothing and medical treatment to address the totality of children’s needs with counseling, tutoring, financing of camps, school trips, holiday gifts and the Carol Parker Scholarship Fund.
VOICES MISSION STATEMENT
To assist the Guardian ad Litem in representing abused, abandoned and neglected children in the Florida Keys. We provide financial assistance for the accompanying health, education and social needs of the children.
Voices for Florida Keys Children began twenty years ago as a response to a plea from a local judge who dealt with children who had been separated from their family, mostly on a temporary basis, due to neglect, abuse, or abandonment. He said these children had a variety of needs which were not being met.
“Voices” is now composed of a board of twenty-three local men and women with 194 supporting memberships. The board plans and executes fund-raising activities, which have been luncheon/fashion shows, bus trips to cultural events, Classic Movie evenings with dinner, coffees, and parties.
“Voices” provides clothes, shoes, tutoring, dental and medical needs, beds and linens, diapers and formula, psychological counseling and evaluations, glasses, camp, dance and karate lessons, and school trips among many other requests. Orthodontic work was once given to a child who had serious speech and digestive problems. And small requests are answered too. Recently a pizza party was provided for siblings who had been placed in separate foster homes. Additionally, the Carol Parker Scholarship Fund provides any former or current foster child or Guardian ad Litem child with money for college or technical training.
Members of “Voices” are encouraged to become a Guardian Ad Litem. The Guardian Ad Litem program is a national program (sometimes called CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocate) of trained volunteers who “represent the best interest of children” in court. The program provides a safety net for children who are under the jurisdiction of the court and Department of Children and Families. Every child in Monroe County under court jurisdiction for parental abuse, abandonment or neglect has a Guardian ad Litem; this is not true in most of the counties in Florida. Guardians are aware of the needs of the children and make requests to Voices for Florida Keys Children. Last year, $67,824 was given for requests throughout the Keys.
If further information is needed about “Voices” or the training and requirements of the Guardian ad Litem program, please contact Phyllis Mitchell at 664-4163. If information is needed for the scholarship program, please call Pauline Russell at 852-0380.