Child welfare cases involving mental illness suffered either by a child or his parent can be among the most difficult and perplexing that a child’s lawyerguardian ad litem (L-GAL) will handle. They may present daunting problems of accessing necessary and appropriate services as well as questions about whether and when such mental health problems can be resolved or how best to manage them. They also require the L-GAL to carefully consider crucially important questions—rarely with all the information one would like to have and too often with information that comes late in the case, is fragmented or glaringly incomplete. This brief article will begin with a discussion of the scope of the problem of parental mental illness and its impact upon children. It will then suggest the need for a particular type of evaluation in order to attain a more comprehensive understanding of the nature of the mental health issues involved, their impact on each party’s functioning, and how best to proceed with the provision of services. Next, it will address case planning by the L-GAL, doing so primarily through suggesting a series of questions that the L-GAL might ask herself about the parties to the case, others involved in the family’s life, and the community resources available to address the needs of the children and families with whom sheis working.
Vandervort, Frank E. "Child Welfare Cases Involving Mental Illness: Reflections on the Role and Responsibilities of the Lawyer-Guardian Ad Litem." Mich. Child Welfare L. J. 14, no. 2 (2012): 31-43.