In 2017, the Government approved the establishment of a new national Guardian ad litem (GAL) service within an executive office of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, on an interim basis, with a view to longer term arrangements for the Office being dealt with in the context of the proposed transition to a Family Courts system.
The Child Care (Amendment) Bill 2019, which I hope to publish shortly, will provide for a new GAL service to be established within an executive office of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. It will also provide for a presumption in favour of a GAL being appointed for all children in child care proceedings.
Costing projections indicate that the new service can be provided within existing resources and the restructuring of the service will provide scope to extend the service to all children who are the subject of child care proceedings within the current expenditure envelope. The costs associated with the provision of GAL services amounted to €14.65m in 2018 and €14m in 2017. My Department is working closely with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on the provision of funding for the establishment of the Guardian ad litem Executive Office.