Representation of Children in Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings - Maine

Date:

Making The Appointment

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4005

In every child protection proceeding, except a request for a preliminary protection order under § 4034 or a petition for a medical treatment order under § 4071, but including hearings on those orders, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) for the child. The appointment must be made as soon as possible after the proceeding is initiated. The term GAL is inclusive of lay court-appointed special advocates (CASAs).

The GAL or the child may request the court to appoint legal counsel for the child.

The Use of Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs)

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 4, §§ 1501; 1503

There is established within the Administrative Office of the Courts of the Judicial Department the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program to provide volunteer lay persons to serve as CASAs or GALs in child abuse and neglect cases.

The director of the CASA program shall recruit the services of qualified persons to serve as volunteer CASAs.

Qualifications/Training

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4005

GALs appointed on or after March 1, 2000, must meet the qualifications established by the supreme judicial court.

Specific Duties

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4005

The GAL shall act in pursuit of the best interests of the child. He or she must be given access to all reports and records relevant to the case and investigate to ascertain the facts. The investigation must include, when possible and appropriate, the following:

  • Review of relevant mental health records and materials
  • Review of relevant medical records
  • Review of relevant school records and other pertinent materials
  • Interviews with the child with or without other persons present
  • Interviews with parents, foster parents, teachers, caseworkers, and other persons who have been involved in caring for or treating the child

The GAL shall have face-to-face contact with the child in the child's home or foster home within 7 days of appointment and at least once every 3 months thereafter. The GAL shall report to the court and all parties in writing at 6-month intervals regarding his or her activities on behalf of the child and recommendations concerning the manner in which the court should proceed in the best interests of the child. The court may provide an opportunity for the child to address the court personally if the child requests to do so or if the GAL believes it is in the child's best interests.

The GAL has the following responsibilities:

  • To subpoena, examine, and cross-examine witnesses and make a recommendation to the court
  • To make a written report of the investigation, findings, and recommendations and provide a copy of the report to the court and each of the parties reasonably in advance of the hearing
  • To make the wishes of the child known to the court if the child has expressed his or her wishes, regardless of the recommendation of the GAL

The GAL or the child may request the court to appoint legal counsel for the child. The district court shall pay reasonable costs and expenses of the child's legal counsel.

How the Representative Is Compensated

Citation: Rev. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4005; Tit. 4, § 1503

The GAL's reasonable costs and expenses must be paid by the district court.

The volunteer CASAs are considered employees of the State only for the purposes of the Maine Tort Claims Act and are not entitled to receive compensation, but are reimbursed for their actual, necessary, and reasonable expenses incurred in the performance of their duties consistent with policies established by the Administrative Office of the Courts.