Advocates bring smiles to foster children at Miami park

For the seventh year in the row, Guardian ad Litem brought smiles to children’s faces during its Miami Child Advocates Picnic March 30 at A.D. (Doug) Barnes Park in southwest Miami.

The non-profit is a part of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida. It offers legal help for children in the foster care system. And, if possible, it aids in finding solutions to domestic issues to allow parents to keep custody of their children.

Volunteer Recruiter Rona Scott said her goal is to give foster children and their caretakers a chance to enjoy themselves. In addition, she said, it lets the larger community know about ways to help or become involved.

“We want to put more education into the community and what we can do to help families stay together and overcome abuse,” Scott said.

Scott encouraged the children to join in the activities as well as to take home some of the donated books and stuffed animals.

To help inform people about the process, Kimberly Lopez, a foster care recruitment specialist for Our Kids, was present. She said that her program partners with Litem when overseeing different court cases for current and aging-out foster children. A child who has aged-out has graduated from high school or reached a state-specified age but has not reunited with their biological family or been adopted.

Leidy Lantigua, another volunteer, said she believes children in foster care deserve to enjoy themselves and have a chance at a normal life. During the event, Leidy called over groups of children to gather around and listen to her read.

Bree Flemings, the event’s DJ, was contacted two days prior to the picnic after the previous person was unable to perform. Flemings said she believed in the importance of giving back to people, teaching attendees mixing techniques with a smile on her face.

Olga Jiron, a first-time attendee, brought her grandchildren to the event after her daughter suggested it to her. She smiled as she spoke about her interest in fostering a child.