The Supreme Court of Ohio Subcommittee on Responding to Child Abuse, Neglect, and Dependency has been charged with reviewing the rules and standards that guide GAL practice in Ohio and making recommendations regarding Rule 48 of the Rules of Superintendence as it relates to proceedings in juvenile court. Focus areas targeted by this group for study through research and surveys include:
- GAL appointment practices;
- GAL accountability;
- GAL practice requirements;
- GAL training
- GAL performance reviews and evaluations; and
- GAL compensation
To this end, a Subcommittee workgroup has met on a regular basis to update research and formulate proposals in relation to critical components of Rule 48, including dual appointment of attorneys as both GAL and attorney for a child; required process when conflicts in dual representation are identified; the number of and topics covered by required pre-service and ongoing GAL training; court oversight and evaluation of GAL performance; management of the GAL complaint or grievance process; and mandated GAL responsibilities.
GALs are expected to fulfill their responsibility to provide courts with recommendations as to a child's best interest by meeting with and establishing a relationship with the child, gathering information from those with a significant connection with or relevant knowledge about the child, reviewing records, and conducting any other investigation necessary to provide the court with a report and informed recommendation as to the child’s best interest. The Subcommittee's recommendations are aimed at assisting GALs in fulfilling their obligations and at assisting courts in overseeing GAL practice.
It is anticipated that Rule recommendations will be finalized in late 2016 or early 2017. Once recommendations are accepted by the Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Children and Families, the recommendations will be submitted to the Supreme Court for its review and comment process.
In tandem with the development of Rule 48 recommendations, work is underway on an online toolkit for courts, GALs and other stakeholders to assist practice on local and individual levels. Toolkit materials will include a sample report form, sample grievance procedure, a model evaluation form,a component on GAL mentoring and field work programming that courts may consider implementing at the local level as a training option, model local rules, and suggestions for GAL evaluation and oversight.
Documents and resources used by the Subcommittee include:
Attorney General Report and Recommendations
State Comparison Chart
State Specific Materials
FLRI Survey Results
Supreme Court of Ohio Rules of Superintendence: RULE 48
CAND Stakeholder Survey Results
Local Court Rules