Representation of Children in Child Abuse and Neglect Proceedings - Rhode Island

Date: June 2021

Making The Appointment

Citation: Gen. Laws § 40-11-14

Any child who is alleged to be abused or neglected as a subject of a petition filed in family court under this chapter shall have a guardian ad litem (GAL) appointed by the court to represent the child. In addition, any young adult who is eligible for extended foster care pursuant to § 14-1-6(c) and who has executed a voluntary agreement for extension of care may request the appointment of a GAL or court-appointed counsel. An appointment shall be in the discretion of the court. The cost of counsel in those instances shall be paid by the State.

The Use of Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs)

Citation: Gen. Laws § 40-11-14

A volunteer court-appointed special advocate (CASA) may be assigned to assist the GAL.


Citation: Gen. Laws §§ 40-11-14; 42-73-7

In order to assist the family court with the ability to ensure that CASA volunteers, whose activity involves routine contact with minors, are of good moral character, all persons seeking to volunteer for CASA shall be required to undergo a national criminal records check for the purpose of determining whether the prospective volunteer has been convicted of any crime.

A national criminal records check shall include fingerprints submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation by the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) for a national criminal records check. The national criminal records check shall be processed prior to the commencement of volunteer activity.

DCYF shall inform the applicant, in writing, of the nature of any disqualifying information and, without disclosing the nature of the disqualifying information, shall notify the family court, in writing, that disqualifying information has been discovered. In those situations in which no disqualifying information has been found, DCYF shall inform the applicant and the family court, in writing, of this fact. The family court shall maintain on file evidence that national criminal records checks have completed on all volunteer CASAs.

All persons seeking to volunteer for CASA must submit a satisfactory DCYF clearance and participate in a training program offered by the CASA office.

The child advocate shall provide training and technical assistance to GALs and CASAs appointed by the family court to represent children in proceedings before that court.

Specific Duties

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.

How the Representative Is Compensated

This issue is not addressed in the statutes reviewed.