Guardian Ad Litem Responsibilities

Act 18 of 2000 amended the Juvenile Act on Guardian Ad Litem responsibilities:

1. Meet with the child, as soon as possible following appointment pursuant to section 6337 (relating to right to Counsel) and on a regular basis thereafter, in a manner appropriate to the child’s age and maturity.

2. On a timely basis, be given access to relevant court and county agency records; reports of examination of the parents or other custodian of the child pursuant to this chapter; and medical, psychological and school records.

3. Participate in all proceedings, including hearings before masters, and administrative hearings and reviews to the degree necessary to adequately represent the child.

4. Conduct such further investigation necessary to ascertain the facts.

5. Interview potential witnesses, including the child’s parents, caretakers and foster parents; examine and cross-examine witnesses; and present witnesses and evidence necessary to protect the best interests of the child.

6. At the earliest possible date, be advised by the county agency having legal custody of the child of:
(i) any plan to relocate the child or modify custody or visitation arrangements, including the reasons therefore, prior to the relocation or change in custody or visitation; and
(ii) any proceeding, investigation or hearing under 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ch. 63 (relating to child protective services) or this chapter, directly affecting the child.

7. Make specific recommendations to the court relating to the appropriateness and safety of the child’s placement and services necessary to address the child’s needs and safety.

8. Explain the proceedings to the child, to the extent appropriate given the child’s age, mental condition and emotional condition.

9. Advise the court of the child’s wishes, to the extent that they can be ascertained, and present to the court whatever evidence exists to support the child’s wishes. When appropriate because of the age or mental and emotional condition of the child, determine, to the fullest extent possible, the wishes of the child and communicate this information to the court. A difference between the child’s wishes under this paragraph and the recommendations under paragraph (7) shall not be considered a conflict of interest for the guardian ad litem.

Provided by the Pennsylvania State Resource Family Association.