Have you ever had a question and didn’t know where to find the answer? If so, you’ve come to the right place.
This section is a compilation of answers to the questions most commonly asked by our constituents. Just start by following one of the links below. If you can’t find the question you wanted to ask, don’t hesitate to contact us.
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How do I contact a child's GAL?
Call the GAL office at 360-740-1178 x8 during normal business hours. Lewis County Guardians ad Litem are volunteers who work from their homes. A GAL may not be contacted at their personal residence, place of employment or via personal cell phone without his or her express permission. Failure to respect a GAL's right to personal privacy may result in legal action.
How can I identify a Lewis County GAL?
All GALs are given picture ID badges when sworn in by the Court. A judge signs a court order that specifically appoints a GAL to a child's case. Only a GAL who has been appointed to a child's specific case is entitled to information about that child or family. If you have any questions about the identity of a person claiming to be a GAL, please contact the GAL office.
What laws govern GALs?
Lewis County Volunteer GALs are appointed to cases falling under RCW 13.34. Specific laws applying to GALs are RCWs 13.34.100, 13.34.105, 13.34.107, 13.34.120 and 26.44.053. Visit www.leg.wa.gov to look up specific RCW or WAC. Click on the option "Laws and Agency Rules" and follow directions from there.
How does a GAL conduct his or her investigation?
The GAL conducts a separate investigation from that of the Department of Social and Health Services. This investigation includes a review of records and documents, interviews with the children, parents, extended family members, family friends, DSHS personnel, medical professionals and experts, psychological experts, law enforcement and other people/records connected with the case to which the GAL is assigned. The GAL is a full legal party to a dependency case, and therefore is entitled to all information provided to DSHS or any other party. The GAL visits with the child(ren) in the case at least once a month. GALs also observe supervised visits on occasion, but do not serve as a visitation supervisor. A GAL typically will not conduct a home visit at a parent’s home unless the Court, at the present time, will be considering placing a child in that home. The GAL should respect your privacy by not conducting interviews in your place of employment or in public places where your conversation could be overheard by persons not associated with your case. The GAL is not able to have “off the record” conversations with any person or professional associated with a case.
What does the GAL base his or her recommendations on?
The GAL’s job is to make recommendations to the Court based on the independent investigation described above as to what is in the child(ren)’s best interest. The GAL’s focus is on what needs to happen to ensure the safety and permanency for the child(ren). The child(ren)’s expressed wishes are communicated to the Court, but the ultimate recommendations made by the GAL are as to the best interest, not necessarily the wishes of the child(ren). GAL’s do not advocate for the position of the State or Parents. The GAL advocates for the position of the child(ren).
What do I do if there is a problem with a GAL?
First of all, have a direct conversation with the Guardian ad Litem. Remember, GALs are appointed to advocate for the children involved in dependency case; not parents, relatives, caregivers or foster parents. A GAL's perspective may be different from yours because they are to look at the situation through the eyes of the child. You may also contact the GAL Program Office to speak with a Program Coordinator. Each GAL is supervised by a Program Coordinator, who is an employee of Lewis County Juvenile Court. Contact the program office at (360) 740-1178 extension 8 and you will be routed to the appropriate coordinator. If the Program Coordinator is unable to resolve your concern satisfactorily, you may contact the Juvenile Court GAL Program Manager, Susan Wickert, (360) 740-2688.