Guardian ad Litem from Kids’ Voice works to get twins a healthy and safe lifestyle.

LaShawna and Antwan are twins and were five years old when their maternal grandparents (Grandparents) became their temporary guardians because Mother was unable to stop her daily use of cocaine. Mother had denied Grandparents’ requests to see the twins for over one year, and Grandparents were dismayed when the twins came under their care and showed multiple signs of neglect. Kids’ Voice was appointed to represent the twins’ best interests in the guardianship case as their Guardian ad litem (GAL). A hearing on whether Grandparents would be appointed as regular guardians of the children was scheduled to be held 90 days in the future. Lindsay, the Kids’ Voice attorney, assigned an experienced volunteer who had a background in early childhood education to serve as the twins’ GAL. The GAL visited the twins at Grandparents’ home and observed indications that the twins had developmental delays in their gross and fine motor skills, speech, and self-help skills. The GAL noted that the twins could speak only a few words and appeared to be underweight and small in stature.

The GAL recommended that Grandparents ask the Marion County First Steps Program to evaluate the twins, and also recommended that Grandparents schedule a visit to a pediatrician. First Steps evaluated the twins and recommended that they receive speech therapy, occupational therapy, and developmental therapy. The pediatrician recommended that the twins be provided with a healthy diet, including supplemental nutritional drinks, and that the twins have an examination by a pediatric dentist. The dentist found that each twin had numerous cavities, which needed to be filled under anesthesia for the twins’ comfort.

On her visits to Grandparents’ home, the GAL observed the twins participating in therapy sessions, noted that their speech had improved, and learned that Grandparents were following through with recommendations from the pediatrician, dentist, and the therapists’ home programs. The GAL found that Mother’s house had no working utilities and no furniture, so the GAL referred Mother to a shelter and to a drug treatment program. Despite the GAL’s encouragement, Mother did not attend drug treatment. With Lindsay’s help, the GAL prepared a detailed report for the court, including recommendations for the twins’ ongoing First Steps, medical, and dental services, and recommendations for drug abuse treatment and other steps for Mother to take so she could have visitation with the twins that would be safe for them. Lindsay prepared the GAL volunteer to testify at the court hearing. At the hearing, the court appointed Grandparents as permanent guardians for the twins, ordered that Mother could visit the twins once per week at Grandparents house, and ordered Mother to follow the GAL’s recommendations. When Lindsay asked the court to release the GAL from service, the twins were well on their way to a healthy and safe life

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