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The Bette J. Dick
Guardian ad Litem (GAL) for Kids Program

The Kids’ Voice of Indiana Bette J. Dick GAL for Kids Program is appointed on cases by judicial officers of the Marion Superior Courts, Civil Division and Probate Division, and the Marion Circuit Court, Paternity Division. Judicial officers determine whether to appoint the Bette J. Dick GAL for Kids Program to provide guardian ad litem representation for a child in a specific case. Judicial officers may appoint Kids’ Voice on the motion of a party or on the Court’s own Motion. Appointments are usually made when children are alleged to be at risk due to abuse, neglect, or endangerment. The Kids’ Voice staff attorneys are responsible for assigning cases to a volunteer. Counsel for the parties and self represented parties involved in the cases are notified of the assigned volunteer’s name by an Oath and Acceptance which is mailed to them.

The GAL program provides guardian ad litem (GAL) services for children using trained, supervised and represented volunteers. The GAL program is appointed by judicial officers to represent and protect the best interest of children in paternity, divorce, guardianship and adoption cases. Kids’ Voice volunteers are both community members and pro bono attorneys. The GAL program volunteers will often conduct home visits, investigate the children’s situations, and interview family members and other service providers. The GAL volunteer may provide a report with recommendations for mediation or a court hearing, and this report is sent to counsel for the parties or self represented parties. The report must not be shown to the child. The volunteers may also appear in court and testify on the children’s behalf. Each volunteer receives training from the Kids’ Voice staff, and our volunteers are supported and advised by a Kids’ Voice staff attorney throughout the case.

The Kids’ Voice volunteer is not a professional custody evaluator. The volunteer is a trained GAL whose role is to represent and protect the best interests of the child pursuant to I.C. 31-9-2-50. Indiana law states that the GAL shall provide the child with services requested by the court, including researching, examining, advocating, facilitating, or monitoring the child’s situation. The GAL cannot act as a mediator, parenting time coordinator, or provide supervised visitation.

Kids’ Voice periodically trains community members to serve as volunteers for the Bette J. Dick GAL for Kids Program. Volunteers learn about their roles and responsibilities, child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, substance abuse, mental health issues, interviewing, report writing, relevant statutes, court procedures, and testifying in court. Indiana law requires that volunteers who are not attorneys complete a training program in order to serve as a GAL.

Kids’ Voice also trains attorneys to serve as pro bono volunteers. Attorneys who would like to volunteer can earn up to 7 free hours of Continuing Legal Education from completing the GAL training course. The GAL training covers topics such as Dissolution, Paternity, Reporting Child Abuse, Guardianship, Ethics and the nuts and bolts of being a GAL volunteer.

Find out more about being a volunteer for the Kids’ Voice Bette J. Dick GAL for Kids Program by visiting the Get Involved Page.

Already a Guardian ad Litem and need resources to help you with your work? Visit our GAL Resource page.