PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Changes are coming to the child welfare system in Florida, specifically to the Guardian ad Litem program, and it’s all because of death of 2-year-old Jordan Belliveau.
- Changes are coming to Florida's child welfare system
- These changes come after the death of two-year-old Jordan Belliveau
- Guardian ad litem program will educate staff about spotting signs of abuse
- RELATED: Thousands Sign Petition to Pass 'Jordan's Law' in Florida
The Guardian ad Litem program will now educate their staff and volunteers about how to spot signs of abuse in children under the age of 5. This makes the second program in the child welfare system stepping up to make changes that the Jordan’s Law bill wants to make mandatory.
The Guardian ad Litem for Pinellas and Pasco counties handles some of the most tragic cases.
“The Guardian ad Litem, the volunteers, we are the voice of the child in the court system," said Guardian ad Litem Circuit Director Mariela Ollsen. “Right now, we have, like I said, around 3,200 kids in the system. Our program is appointed to a little over 1,800 of those kids. So we’re able to advocate for their best interest in the court system.”
One of the cases they handled was 2-year-old Jordan.
"Jordan Belliveau’s case was tragic. Nobody likes to see that outcome on any case. So anytime we have a tragedy such that it is an opportunity to grow, and I think the training that is taking place now with the abusive head trauma, is an example of how you notice something is missing, and we need to address it," she said.
A new training video is how they plan to address it. The video shows volunteers and staff how to spot the warning signs that may have been missed with cases like Jordan’s.
The video training is part of several changes Jordan’s Law called for, but when it failed last session, the Guardian ad Litem program put their own training together. It’s something Rep. Chris Latvala, who filed the Jordan’s law bill, said will have far-reaching impact.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that this law will save lives, and there are other things we can do down the road and other fixes that need to be made to the child welfare system, but this is a very, very important first step,” Latvala said.
Jordan’s Law has already been filed for a second time and the website. If passed, it would make these kind of video trainings mandatory for every Guardian ad Litem in the state.
Later this month a clinical neuropsychologist is holding a training session on how to spot brain injuries in young children. Child welfare employees, law enforcement agencies, and anyone else who interact with children are expected to attend.