Representation of Children in Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings - Illinois

Date: June 2021

Making The Appointment

Citation: Comp. Law Ch. 705, §§ 405/2-17; 405/1-5

Immediately upon the filing of a petition alleging that the child is an abused, neglected, or dependent minor, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) for the child.

The court may appoint a GAL for the child when it finds that there may be a conflict of interest between the child and his or her parents or other custodian or that it is otherwise in the child's best interests to do so.

A GAL shall be appointed to represent the best interests of the child. Unless the GAL is an attorney, he or she shall be represented in the performance of his or her duties by counsel.

If a GAL has been appointed for the minor under § 2-17 of this act, and the GAL is a licensed attorney of this State, or in the event that a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) has been appointed as GAL and counsel has been appointed to represent the CASA, the court may not require the appointment of counsel to represent the minor, unless the court finds that the minor's interests are in conflict with what the GAL determines to be in the best interests of the minor.

The Use of Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs)

Citation: Comp. Law Ch. 705, § 405/2-17.1

The court may appoint a special advocate upon the filing of a petition alleging child abuse or neglect or at any time during the pendency of a proceeding resulting from this petition. Except in counties with a population over 3 million, the CASA may also serve as GAL.

The CASA shall act as a monitor and shall be notified of all administrative case reviews pertaining to the child and work with the parties' attorneys, the GAL, and others assigned to the child's case to protect the child's health, safety, and best interests and ensure the proper delivery of child welfare services. The court may consider, at its discretion, testimony of the CASA pertaining to the well-being of the child.

CASAs shall serve as volunteers without compensation and shall receive training consistent with nationally developed standards. No person convicted of a criminal offense, as specified in Section 4.2 of the Child Care Act of 1969 (225 ILCS 10/4.2), and no person identified as a perpetrator of an act of child abuse or neglect, as reflected in the Department of Children and Family Services State Central Register, shall serve as a CASA.

The court may remove the CASA or the GAL from a case upon finding that the CASA or the GAL has acted in a manner contrary to the child's best interests or if the court otherwise deems continued service is unwanted or unnecessary.


Citation: Comp. Law Ch. 705, § 405/2-17

In counties with a population of 100,000 or more but less than 3 million, each GAL must successfully complete a training program approved by the Department of Children and Family Services. The department shall provide training materials and documents to GALs who are not mandated to attend the training program.

The department shall develop and distribute to all GALs a bibliography containing information on, but not limited to, the juvenile court process, termination of parental rights, child development, medical aspects of child abuse, and the child's need for safety and permanence.

Specific Duties

Citation: Comp. Law Ch. 705, § 405/2-17

The GAL shall represent the best interests of the minor and shall present recommendations to the court consistent with that duty.

The GAL shall receive copies of all classified reports of child abuse and neglect about the child he or she has been appointed to represent.

The GAL shall remain the child's GAL throughout the entire juvenile trial court proceedings, including permanency hearings and termination of parental rights proceedings, unless there is a substitution entered by order of the court.

The GAL or an agent of the GAL shall have a minimum of one in-person contact with the child and one contact with one of the current foster parents or caregivers, as follows:

  • Prior to the adjudicatory hearing
  • After the adjudicatory hearing but prior to the first permanency hearing
  • Each subsequent year that the child remains in care

For good cause shown, the judge may excuse face-to-face interviews required in this subsection.

How the Representative Is Compensated

Citation: Comp. Law Ch. 705, §§ 405/2-17; 405/2-17.1

The reasonable fees of a GAL shall be fixed by the court and charged to the parents of the child to the extent they are able to pay. If the parents are unable to pay those fees, they shall be paid from the general fund of the county.

All costs associated with the appointment and duties of the CASA shall be paid by the CASA or an organization of CASAs. In no event shall the CASA be liable for any costs of services provided to the child.