The Malfunctioning Guardian ad litem (GAL) program in Maine

In 2006 OPEGA (Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability) did a report on the Guardian ad litem (GAL) system for the state. This came over 30 years after GALs were created as mandated by the Federal Government. From that investigation that was completed six years ago came 11 recommendations to help fix the problems that had been festering for so long. As was pointed out in the last post – none – of these recommendations have been acted upon.

One out of the 11 issues that OPEGA found with the Guardian ad litem program is addressed:

1. OPEGA found back in 2006 that GAL services were not being managed as a program with a focus on the quality and effectiveness of service delivery.

When OPEGA made the recommendations back in 2006 the Judicial Branch agreed to convene a task force to evaluate what OPEGA advised. October 2007 The Judicial Branch was to put forth its recommendations and how it was going to fix the problem. Five years later nothing has happened with the Guardian ad litem program and the issues that confront this very broken system. In 2008 Toby Hollander President of the Maine Guardian ad Litem Institute (the trade organization for Guardians ad litem – also known as MEGALI) basically reiterates what OPEGA had indicated was wrong in his “Proposal to Create a Guardian ad Litem Commission and Office of the Child’s Advocate”.

In this proposal that Mr Hollander echoed the OPEGA report in that the weakness of oversight of Guardians ad litem was a major concern. Mr Hollander is quoted as stating “There is no ongoing supervision of Guardians. There is no effort to evaluate the quality or efficiency of their work.” One would think that in 2012 four years after his proposal that there would be more support from the Guardians ad litem that MEGALI fights for in the recent committee investigations in Guardian ad litem oversight and management. It should come as no surprise though that MEGALI and the Judicial Branch have walked lockstep perusing no change despite recognition that change is needed.

Since May 2012 we are aware of over 40 people, 40 families who have been hurt by these organizations. How many others during the prior six years or the 30 plus years before that have been harmed because the Judicial Branch and more recently MEGALI have chosen to turn away and do nothing to fix a problem – a problem that continues to fester?

If you have had issues with a Guardian ad litem or know someone who has. Please contact us for support at MeGALalert@gmail.com or like us on Facebook

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