‘Every child deserves a voice’

first_img December 1, 2004 Associate Editor Regular News ‘Every child deserves a voice’ ‘Every child deserves a voice’center_img Guardian program seeks more money and volunteers Jan Pudlow Associate Editor American Airlines Arena, where the Miami Heat play basketball, is not big enough to hold all of the abused and neglected children denied a guardian ad litem to speak up for them in Florida’s courts.The arena holds 19,600 sports fans. There are 21,282 children who still wait for an advocate, while their worlds are ripped apart — half of the 42,565 total of abused and neglected children in Florida enmeshed in dependency courts.Never mind that the appointment of a GAL for these children is required by law. Florida has never adequately funded the mandate.Angela Orkin, executive director of the new Florida Guardian ad Litem Program, is on an aggressive mission to improve that situation.In one year, she hopes to recruit at least 1,000 more volunteers to serve as guardians ad litem. (Currently, 4,670 trained volunteers, with help from professional staff, represent more than 14,000 children at any given time in Florida.)She’s making an impassioned pitch to Florida’s lawyers to volunteer. (See story, page 15.)“I can’t think of anything more rewarding, particularly for an attorney, to be able to speak up for children who truly can’t speak for themselves,” Orkin said. “It’s the best volunteer job going.”A year ago, Orkin began her new job sitting at a card table with a cell phone. Now, she’s anchored in a corner office in the Holland Building, conveniently located across the street from the Florida Capitol, where she will spend a lot of time lobbying legislators.She is asking for $4.3 million in additional funds — beyond the total current budget of $22.3 million — to move closer to 100 percent representation.How much closer?“We believe that if we achieve all of the goals outlined in the report, and receive the $4.3 million requested, we will be able to increase our caseload by 5,800. We currently have a caseload of over 21,000 children,” said Orkin.That additional $4.3 million will be used to hire case coordinators, program attorneys, and limited support staff.The report she refers to is “The Voice for Florida’s Abused and Neglected Children,” the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program’s 2004 progress report that she hopes is must reading for Florida’s legislators who chose the GAL representation model for children in dependency court.Gerard Glynn, executive director of Florida Children First (who returns to the faculty at Barry University School of Law in January) sits on the GAL program training committee and has read the report.“We are very supportive of the effort, and it is a commendable and wonderful report. It is exciting we now have a statewide office to coordinate leadership and assessment, and we will support all of their efforts,” Glynn said.“However, the Florida Legislature needs to step up to the plate and fully fund 100 percent representation,” Glynn said.“For a child to wait another year for the legislature.. . is a lifetime to a child. Every child deserves to have a voice in the dependency program. They are losing their parents, losing their friends, losing their schools. Many of these issues are constitutionally protected, and they are losing them because they don’t have a voice.”The progress reports details how Florida GAL program has the highest level of volunteer recruitment in the nation.“And we’re still only at 50 percent,” Glynn said. “For the legislature or anyone to think we can get 100 percent representation with a pure volunteer model is unrealistic. That is one of the messages to take away from this report. We can continue to do the best we can with volunteers. But at some point, the state must fund a core staff to supplement the volunteers. The pure volunteer model will never get us to 100 percent.”Orkin outlined her two-year plan as pushing for as many volunteers as possible this year, as well as requesting the $4.3 million in additional funds. Her office has also set a “five percent efficiency goal” within the existing budget, looking at efficiently using every state dollar, so the office is able to represent five percent more children.Then the following year, Orkin said: “My goal is to be able to stand before the legislature next session (2006) and demonstrate all the things that we’ve done to get volunteers, and to be able to say with confidence that this is how many volunteers we think we will be able to keep. Then I can develop the number for the rest of the kids.”If Orkin is successful in recruiting 1,000 new volunteers who agree to take one case, that means about 1,800 more children will have an advocate in court (the average case has 1.8 children). At that rate, it would still take at least 14,780 more volunteers to assign a volunteer for every child in dependency court.“Given the fact we are at 4,500, we are working to do better. At some point, we need to realize what the saturation is,” Orkin said. “At some point, we have to give the number to staff the rest.”She knows there is a lot of support for the program.“But to get that to translate into a financial commitment is another thing,” Orkin said.“What we will do with legislators is remind them it’s not just a program that is nice to have. It’s really needed for each and every one of these kids. The report was the starting place, but we are going to continue to really educate and remind everyone why it was mandated.”The report also touches on the issue of attorneys ad litem, noting that currently $330,000 has been set aside for their appointment in dependency court. The statewide GAL office is “monitoring the use of attorneys ad litem in an effort to determine the needs of the state,” according to the report.In an interview, Orkin said, “I didn’t want to go back to this big debate. We need to get everybody focused on getting the kids represented. The legislators made a decision at one point it was a guardian ad litem. Until they decide to address it, we have our marching orders, so to speak.”She notes that when the GAL versus attorney ad litem debate raged during the three years of The Florida Bar’s Commission on the Legal Needs of Children, ending with a final report in June 2002, there has been an evolution within the GAL program.“We now have 75 full-time lawyers within the program,” Orkin said. “Now we have an attorney representing the program in every court hearing, which is a huge change.”With unlimited resources, Orkin acknowledges, “There are a whole slew of cases where a child could benefit” from an attorney ad litem.“But the question is, if you have this many children with no representation, are you going to provide a small section with a guardian and an attorney ad litem and leave these kids with nothing?” Orkin asks.“That is where I am sitting. I want to get everyone covered, and then we’ll talk about improving.”last_img read more

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Trojans tame Tigers to sweep homestand

first_imgThe USC men’s basketball team had a well-rounded performance to keep first-year head coach Andy Enfield undefeated at the Galen Center, as the Trojans beat West Alabama 73-57 on Thursday.Junior guard Byron Wesley led the Trojans (4-1) with 15 points on 6-of-15 shooting, eight rebounds, and four assists. Freshman forward Nikola Jovanovic had the best performance of his young career, finishing with 14 points and six rebounds. Senior center Omar Oraby controlled the paint with 13 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks, while senior guard Pe’Shon Howard chipped in eight points, six assists and five rebounds.Despite the well-rounded performance, players felt that there was room for improvement.“We have to work on protecting our homecourt,” Oraby said. “We can’t let a team come and beat us on our home floor.”Desmond Raymond led the Tigers (1-3) with 18 points and four rebounds, while Sandy Underwood finished with 16 points and six rebounds.Before the game, coach Andy Enfield announced that senior guard J.T. Terrell would be ineligible for the first semester due to academic reasons. Terrell could be eligible to return to the team when fall semester finals end on Dec. 18. Terrell was averaging 10 points per game in three games for USC this season, leading the team with 20 in their opener against Utah State.Oraby towered at least five inches over each West Alabama player, a height advantage that the Trojans exploited, using him to either get an easy shot in the paint or draw defenders to get an open shot outside. His presence helped USC get on an 11-2 run to start the game.The Trojans would go up by as many as 13, but UWA responded with a 12-3 run to cut the deficit to 22-18. USC opened the game up from there, building up a 45-25 lead at halftime behind nine points each from Wesley, Jovanovic and Oraby.“The first half, like the other night, we came out with a defensive fire,” Enfield said. “We were in the passing lanes, we were really active with our hands, and we got out to a 20-point lead just like the other night. It was a very successful first half.”USC shot 48 percent in the first half compared to UWA’s 31 percent. The Trojans were dangerous from downtown, hitting five of their 10 three-point attempts in the half. They also outrebounded the Tigers 27-19, with Wesley leading the team with 5.The Trojans held their advantage in the second half, constantly rotating their players in and out. West Alabama cut the halftime deficit to as low as eight thanks to a barrage of 3s, but the early hole was too deep to get out of. USC went on an 11-1 run toward the end of the game, ending any chance of a Tigers comeback.“I was a little disappointed in the second half,” Enfield said. “We lost our focus at times and gave too many transition baskets away by fumbling the ball or missing easy shots.”USC finished shooting 43 percent for the game, compared to 34 percent for the Tigers. They ran into trouble with turnovers, committing 13 to UWA’s nine, but held their rebounding edge 42-30.The Trojans will travel to the Bahamas next week for the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament. They will face Villanova in Paradise Valley on Nov. 28 at 10 a.m., followed by a match against either Kansas or Wake Forest on Nov. 29 in Nassau.USC’s next home game will be against Boston College on Sunday, Dec. 8 at 4 p.m.last_img read more

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Take a Look at the best Red Bull Cliff Diving Moments in Mostar (VIDEO)

first_imgThis year, Red Bull Cliff Diving will bring the world’s best jumpers in BiH who will demonstrate their skills at the Old Bridge in Mostar on September 8. The previous three editions included a lot of excitement, great jumps and interesting events.When the world cliff diving elite steps at the Old Bridge on Saturday, September 8, it will be the fourth Red Bull Cliff Diving World Championship in our country. Residents of Mostar are used to a spectacle after three years full of memorable moments.At the first competition that was held on August 15, 2015, the Colombian jumper Orlando Duque, an old friend of Mostar, had a great support of local fans. However, Mexican Jonathan Paredes, the rising star back then, recorded the first victory in his career. He is the current champion now. Sergio Guzman, also a Mexican, won a second place and caused a great surprise, which was the first time in the history of this championship for a competitor who received an invitation to end up on the winning podium.The following year brought a novelty – a competition in women category, which attracted great attention and caused great enthusiasm just like in the male category. The winners that year were Lysanne Richard from Canada and Michal Navratil from the Czech Republic.Last year, Gary Hunt from England won at the Old Bridge from the third attempt. Champion Rhiannan Iffland (Australia) was injured in training and thus had to give up the competition, and Cesilie Carlton from the US won. Sergio Guzman, the one who won the second place in Mostar two years earlier, was unlucky and had a bad jump, but he was saved from more serious consequences thanks to quick response of the rescuers.However, one thing did not change in all three years, and that is that the plateau under the bridge and all of the possible points from which is possible to follow the competition full of spectators who knew how to make a great atmosphere. There is no doubt that this will be the case again on September 8, when the new spectacle is scheduled.Take a look at the video:(Source: klix.ba)last_img read more

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Fort St. John annual Pitch-in week approaching

first_imgThe city says the event is “part of the spring clean-up and beautification efforts in the community” and expect “hundreds of community minded volunteers” to join the project.The event kicks off May 18 and will run until May 24. The city will coordinate participating groups around the surrounding area. If you’re interested in participating, contact Tara O’Donnell at 250 787 5791 or send an e mail to [email protected] – Advertisement –last_img

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Cancelled Saints Row game now available to download for free

first_imgEarlier this week we reported on a Saints Row game for the PSP which was never released. Though initially hesitant to even show it to the world, Volition, the developer behind the game, has decided to release the unfinished title to the world as a free download.The game was discovered by Volition associate video editor Josh Stinson. He was surprised to find a PSP dev kit in storage because he didn’t know the company had even been working on a title for Sony’s first portable system. This PSP game was Saints Row: Undercover, or Saints Row 2, as it was originally called.Though the title was nearly complete, Volition felt that it didn’t meet the standards of a proper Saints Row game and terminated development of it. At first, the company was hesitant to show this game to the public since it prefers to reveal things which are finished. However, Stinson, along with video producer Alexander Mejia and community manager Mike Watson, managed to convince the higher ups to show the game to everyone.A live stream went up yesterday which had Stinson and Mejia playing the game. You can check that out here.For those interested in playing Saints Row: Undercover, you can go here to download the .ISO file. You can use whichever emulator you prefer to run the game. Undercover is being offered by the developer, so there’s no need to worry that you’re playing a pirated game. Just keep in mind that this is an unfinished game and won’t exactly make for an optimal playing experience. However, it does offer an interesting look into game development and how even games that are mostly finished can get cancelled.last_img read more

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