Evaluation of the Guardian Ad Litem System in Nebraska
A report assessing Nebraska’s system of child representation was released on January 9, 2010. The report was conducted by the National Association of Counsel for Children, Suffolk University law professor Erik Pitchal, child welfare expert Madelyn Freundlich, and Youth Law Center Staff Attorney Corene Kendrick.
The report documents that Nebraska’s current structure for providing GAL services results in uneven performance and lack of accountability. While there are a number of aspects of the Nebraska GAL system that function fairly well, the findings reveal wide agreement within stakeholder groups that despite many good intentions, the structure of the GAL system in Nebraska undermines the ability of GALs to perform in compliance with reasonable practice standards. While there are individual GALs who are able to overcome the structural problems to provide good service, the findings show that, overall, GALs are not visiting their clients; they are not zealously advocating for appropriate permanency for their clients; they are not making their clients’ position known to the court; they are not using independent experts to assist them in understanding their clients and in presenting alternative service plans to the court; they are not actively investigating their clients’ education needs; and they are not receiving sufficient training or supervision.