Thursday, November 22, 2012

Almost 40 years with no Compliance System for Guardians ad litem

In 2006 OPEGA ( Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability ) produced a report highlighting some of the problems with the Guardian ad litem program in Maine. What OPEGA highlighted back in 2006 for Maine are issues that sadly can be seen in many states across the country.

One of the audit findings by OPEGA was that there is a lack of compliance, performance controls and evaluation systems. The Judicial Branch has not been competent when it comes to oversight or performance monitoring in the 30+ years prior to the report.  Six years later we find the Judicial Branch still without any quality controls in place to monitor and evaluate Guardians ad litem. There is no mechanism to identify GALs that are not complying with requirements or who are not involved in the lives of the child(ren). OPEGA also recommended the establishment of an independent oversight board that would ask for feedback on GAL performance. Being able to give feedback and having a place where this feedback, good or bad, is available for consumers would help in the matter of oversight and management. An Angie’s list of sorts would weed out under performing GALs or limit their business. Those that perform to standards would be rewarded for their ethics and behavior.

It was 30+ years before OPEGA investigated and reported on this issue. Six years later the situation has not changed except that there has been 6 more years of damage to Maine's families and children. How much longer will Maine's children have to wait for change to come? If we wait for the Judicial Branch to bring about change it may be another 40 years. Can we wait that long?

If you want to read a summarized copy of the 2006 OPRGA report click here.

A copy of the report done in 2012 – the Power of the Powerless which covers many of the same issues can be found here.

If you are or know someone who has had issues with a Guardian ad litem please contact us for support at We can also be found on Facebook.


  1. 40 years is a long time to go without any kind of management. The experience I had with my GAL - large unexplained bill. When questioned what she had done she managed to get the court to seal her work - as it was in the childs best interest. To this day no one knows what this person has done. I consider myself lucky - but hurt and un-trusting of the courts. It is nice to know I am not alone.

  2. The amazing thing is that GALs are called "officers of the court", and no one manages them, has oversight, or supervision. They just do their own thing, protected by legal immunity and private 'ex parte' conversations with judges. No wonder those that are forced to pay for their services are often afraid of them. Huge power and no accountability!

  3. Lack of compliance, performance controls, and evaluation systems for almost 40 years- even after the 2006 OPEGA report?

    It's a system running wild, out of control, and unaccountable. It is inflicting disasters on the public and those in charge have no data, no oversight.

    At headquarters of the Judicial Branch, managers have no idea whether any of their GALs are following the "Rules and Regs" for GALs. There is no tracking of what GALs do. There is absolutely no survey of "consumer satisfaction" (or dissatisfaction). No eveluation of program effectiveness.

    Yet GALs continue with immunity, which furthers the problems.

  4. The report seems like such common sense that it is hard to understand why it has taken so long for any kind of action. Why hasn't the House and Senate acted on any of this?