Our Mission Statement - To promote proficient and skillful representation of the interests of children and others before the Juvenile Court, to vindicate their rights, and achieve their best interests as valued members of our community.
The Guardian ad Litem Project was formed in 1978 in response to legislation requiring the appointment of a guardian ad litem (GAL) in all abuse and neglect cases, as well as in other juvenile court cases in which there is a parent/child conflict, where the child has no parent, where the parent is a minor or appeared to be mentally incompetent, or where appointment is otherwise necessary to ensure a fair hearing.
The Guardian ad Litem Project recruits and trains GALs and monitors their performance. The Project serves as the liaison between the GALs, the Juvenile Court, and the public. The Project operates according to its By-Laws under an Administrator and Advisory Committee. Throughout the years, the Advisory Committee has been comprised of attorneys, psychologists, college faculty, social workers, foster parents, and members of valued community organizations. The Executive Director of the Bar Association, the Program Director of Mediation, and the Juvenile Court Administrative Judge and Director of Court Services serve as ex-officio members of the Advisory Committee.
Guardian ad Litem practice is governed by the Guardian ad Litem Guidelines, the Juvenile Court’s Local Rules, Rules of Superintendence, and O.R.C. 2151.281. Some attorneys serve as guardian ad litem pro bono, while others earn a fee, either paid by Cuyahoga County or the parties to the case. The Guardian ad Litem Project provides a two-day training for attorneys to become qualified GALs in Cuyahoga County. Advanced Trainings, also provided by the Project, are required to continue serving as a GAL.
Guardian ad Litem Project Elects 2015 Officers
From Left: Donald E. Howard of Shaker Heights, Vice-Chair; Nancy Sin of Shaker Heights, Secretary;
Daniel J. Bartos of Rocky River, Chair; Thomas Kozel of North Olmsted, Treasurer
At its Annual Meeting in January, the CMBA's Guardian ad Litem Project Advisory Committee elected its officers for 2015. Newly elected Chairperson Daniel Bartos's focus for the year is enhancing services provided to children and families in the Cuyahoga County Courts. The Juvenile Court is embracing the GAL Project's development of a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Program initiated by 2014 Chair Mary Bush. Bartos is now taking the lead on the CASA program to bolster child advocacy provided by attorney guardians ad litem for 37 years. Recognizing the child welfare and juvenile justice community's strong commitment to provide evidence-based services to families, Bartos is also leading an effort to educate the legal community on the wide range of services available to strengthen Cuyahoga County's children and families.
The Guardian ad Litem Project also sponsors important community outreach programs
Books GALore - Provides new books donated by community members to the GALs’ wards and family members and also provides boxes of new, like-new, and used books at supervised visitation centers, the Detention Center and Juvenile Court waiting areas.
Both the GALlop for Children
and the Holiday GALa
raise funds for wards of guardians ad litem and caregivers. The GALs ask their wards or the caregivers for the child’s “wish list” and what the family needs, and the GALs fulfill those wishes.