When a report of neglect or abuse is made to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (the Department), the report can be managed in different ways. One way is for the Department to file a Petition for Child Protection Order in the Maine District Court alleging that the parents are unsafe caregivers for the child. At that time, a Maine District Court judge, by federal statute, must appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the child in court proceedings. In Maine, a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) is a GAL in these types of cases.
CASA GALs conduct an investigation and report their findings to the judge by way of written report. CASA GALs are the voice of the child in the courtroom. By speaking for the child, CASA GALs ensure that the wishes and needs of the child are not overlooked by the many competing interests at play. Learn more about what CASA GALs do in the “Volunteer” section.
Maine CASA staff members are available to CASA GALs for consultation and direction throughout the entire child protection proceeding. Maine CASA staff members observe, coach, interpret, and offer feedback. Maine CASA staff members take care to avoid any activities that imply their role is anything other than to provide advice, clarity, guidance, and support. Maine CASA staff members never participate in investigative activities.