On October 25, 2018, the State Court Administrator’s Office issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to find qualified nonprofit partners interested in establishing a local Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program. The Judiciary issued this RFP to:

  • Enhance support for our existing volunteer guardians ad litem;
  • Improve our ability to recruit and train new volunteers; and
  • Engage community connections to help children and families.

Proposals are due on Friday, January 4, 2019 at 3:00 PM.

Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to visit the website maintained by the Department of Buildings & General Services, Office of Purchasing & Contracting, to ensure that they have accessed the most current version of the Request for Proposals and the Budget Sheets documents.

Information about the RFP

As noted in the RFP:

The Vermont State Court Administrator’s Office (CAO) seeks proposals from nonprofit organizations interested in partnering with the Judiciary to recruit, train, and support volunteer Guardians ad Litem (GALs) in one or more counties in Vermont. Ideal proposals will come from organizations with experience administering volunteer-based programs to serve children or families in need. Applicants must propose a “local program” serving at least one entire county but may propose to serve multiple counties.

The schedule for the RFP is as follows:

To Participate by Conference Call:
Please dial: 1-802-552-8456
Conference ID: 652 723 02#

To help organizations prepare and submit a budget for their proposed programs, the State Court Administrator’s Office has prepared an Excel® spreadsheet file. That file also includes templates for other required documents.

The Judiciary anticipates starting the first contract arising from this RFP on or around April 1, 2019. To support new relationships with selected vendors, the Judiciary will stagger the negotiation and execution of contracts so that the Judiciary may provide extensive support to each new contractor in the first quarter after its contract starts. The order in which the Judiciary establishes new local GAL programs will depend on a variety of factors, including the Judiciary’s current ability to recruit, train, and support GALs within a given county.

Why Is the Judiciary Issuing this RFP?

The Judiciary administers the Vermont Guardian ad Litem Program. Currently, we rely on part-time regional GAL coordinators to find, train, and assist volunteer GALs. The Judiciary requested and received additional funding from the Legislature and Governor to provide increased support to GALs and the children they serve. The Judiciary proposed using that funding to partner with nonprofit organizations to improve how the program recruits, trains, and supports volunteer GALs in each county.

To capitalize on both the increased funding for the VTGAL program as well as the program’s accomplishments to date, the Judiciary issued this request for proposals (RFP) to find committed, connected, and stable nonprofit partners. The Judiciary is looking for community-based nonprofit entities interested in administering a GAL local program in one or more counties in Vermont. Applicants must propose to serve at least one entire county but may propose to serve multiple counties in Vermont except for Lamoille County*.

* Earlier in 2018, the CAO entered into a contract with a nonprofit organization in Lamoille County following a previous Request for Proposals; accordingly, the CAO will not consider proposals from organizations offering to recruit, train, and support volunteer GALs in Lamoille County.

Information for GALs

The Judiciary issued this request for proposals (RFP) to identify nonprofit partners so that we can:

  • Ease the burden on existing volunteer GALs by finding and training new volunteers;
  • Ensure that GALs have access to more support than the Judiciary can currently provide; and
  • Capitalize on the selected nonprofit partners’ existing relationships with other community service providers to enhance the assistance available to the children and families GALs serve.

To ensure that GALs have a voice in shaping the future of the GAL Program, the Judiciary is inviting GALs to help the Judiciary evaluate submitted proposals.

To keep current GALs informed of developments during this RFP process, the Judiciary will update this webpage as the program establishes relationships with selected nonprofit agencies. The Judiciary will also convene meetings with GALs serving in counties where a nonprofit organization is selected to administer a local GAL program to discuss the transition and respond to questions and concerns.

To minimize disruption to GALs, the Judiciary partnered with a nonprofit organization on a pilot basis to learn how to navigate the transition as smoothly as possible. Many of the requirements in the RFP reflect lessons learned from that pilot.

The order in which the Judiciary begins working with chosen nonprofit organizations will depend on a variety of factors, including the Judiciary’s current ability to recruit, train, and support GALs within a given county.

If you have any questions about this RFP, please feel free to send an email.

Information for Families and Attorneys in Cases with an Assigned GAL

Courts assign volunteer guardians ad litem (GALs) to advocate for the best interests of children in and out of court. Assigned GALs meet with children, gather information from parents and other people close to the child, work closely with the Department for Children and Families and the child’s lawyer, and engage with any other professionals (such as educators or counselors) who know the child. GALs use the information gleaned from these activities to make impartial and fact-based recommendations based on the child’s best interests.

The Judiciary recognizes the need for increased recruitment, training, and support of GALs in every county. This increased work will help the Judiciary meet the growing demand for GALs while ensuring that each GAL has a manageable caseload.

The Judiciary will offer significant programmatic support during the first few months of each new local program. Afterwards, the Judiciary will continue to provide technical assistance and quality assurance to our nonprofit partners.

The Judiciary welcomes feedback from parties and counsel as new programs get under way. If you have any questions about this RFP, please feel free to send an email.