ABOUT THE GAL VOLUNTEER 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 may appoint Kids’ Voice on the motion of a party or on the Court’s own Motion.
The GAL program provides guardian ad litem services for children using trained, supervised and represented volunteers. 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 does ask parties to pay a program fee for the GAL services. However, we will serve on a case regardless of a person’s ability to pay. We offer a fee waiver program and payment plan options. You can find out more info here: GAL Fee Waiver.
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.
GUARDIAN AD LITEM VOLUNTEER
Kids’ Voice offers an opportunity to serve as a Guardian ad Litem volunteer on Kids’ Voice cases. The GAL training covers topics such as Dissolution, Paternity, Reporting Child Abuse, Guardianship, Ethics, and the nuts and bolts of being a GAL volunteer. The GAL training is offered throughout the year; dates and registration information can be found on our event calendar.
All volunteer advocates must complete an application and a background check prior to participating in training. To get started, please complete the GAL Volunteer Application and send to Chelsea Shelburne, firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Attorneys who would like to volunteer can earn up to 7 free hours of CLE by from completing the GAL training course.*
One of our Pro Bono GAL Volunteers said: I find this area fascinating and learned information even though I primarily practice family law.
From one of our GAL Community Volunteers following training: I feel ready to volunteer and can tell the KV attorneys are happy to answer any question I have.
How does a GAL differ from a CASA volunteer?
CASA volunteers at Kids’ Voice do similar work to GAL volunteers, but for a different type of legal case. CASA volunteers are appointed to cases where a child has experienced abuse or neglect. You can learn more about CASA volunteering here.
CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION TRAINING
Attorneys located in Marion County and the surrounding counties may attend a GAL training to receive 7 free hours of CLE if they agree to serve on at least two pro bono GAL cases for Kids’ Voice after completing the training. Attorneys who do not live in Marion County or the surrounding counties may pay to attend the GAL training with no service obligation. Kids’ Voice may do additional CLE programs throughout the year. Check the event calendar for future CLE programs.
From an attorney who attended our CLE Training: I came here for a refresher because it has been many years since I went through a formal training and I am so thankful I did. Got tons of great advice and really did learn a lot. Thank You!