Rural states like Wyoming face unique challenges finding attorneys to represent children in their county’s juvenile court.
It’s possible when you have the right people advocating for it.
President of Public Knowledge®, Stacey Obrecht, and Director of the Wyoming Office of Guardian Ad Litem, Joseph Belcher, co-authored a powerful article sharing the true reality of attorneys working as Guardians Ad Litem (GAL) in the state of Wyoming. In their article, The Road from Attorney Panel to State-Run Program — Wyoming’s GAL Program History, they share the entire journey from the beginning to the present day.
An Honest and Compelling Perspective from Attorneys Dedicated to the Cause
While Stacey has seen first-hand the journey and the impact Wyoming’s GAL Program has faced, she knew this narrative would not be complete without the perspective of Joseph Belcher.
“Mr. Belcher was one of the first supervisors I hired at the GAL Program when we first created the positions. Then last year, he was appointed as the director of the agency. He is a superb attorney and GAL. I have a historic point of view, but my knowledge is almost 10 years old. Joe has stayed with the agency and has the current day knowledge.”Stacey Obrecht, Public Knowledge® President
History at a Glance
- 2005: The Wyoming Legislature created the GAL Program to address disparities in representation and pay.
- 2008: The GAL Program moved to the Office of Public Defenders, as requested by the Supreme Court, due to issues stemming from unsupervised GALs and a lack of a complaint process for the children and stakeholders.
- 2020: Became an independent state agency, called the Wyoming Office of Guardian Ad Litem.
The Children of Wyoming Deserve Better
While the Wyoming Office of Guardian Ad Litem has come a long way, there is still work to be done—and the attorneys working for this office are willing to do it.
“We cannot rest on our laurels and must strive to make the child welfare system better and more efficient and work to be the best GALs that we can be. The children of Wyoming deserve that.”Excerpt from The Road from Attorney Panel to State-Run Program — Wyoming’s GAL Program History
Read the Full Article to Learn More
Get the complete, eye-opening perspective by reading the full article for yourself.