Ashley Willcott, J.D., C.W.L.S Director

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Juvenile Court Dependency Guardian ad Litem


The federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA, 42. U.S.C. 5106, et.seq.) requires the appointment of a guardian ad litem (attorney or CASA) to represent an abused or neglected child in all stages of a judicial proceeding. 

It is also required that before the appointment as a guardian ad litem, such person shall have received training appropriate to the role as guardian ad litem which is administered or approved by the Office of the Child Advocate for the Protection of Children. This language mirrors the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) which requires that attorneys or court-appointed special advocates who are appointed as guardians ad litem (GAL) receive training appropriate to their role. CAPTA section 106(b)(2)(B)(xiii). The statute is clear that the State must have provisions and procedures in place to assure that every child who is the subject of an abuse or neglect proceeding is appointed a GAL, and that the GAL receive training appropriate to the role, including training that addresses early childhood, child, and adolescent development, prior to being to represent appointed the child in the proceeding regardless of whether the GAL is an attorney or court-appointed special advocate.

Georgia law designates the Office of the Child Advocate as the agency with the responsibility to administer or approve guardian ad litem training for Guardians ad Litem who serve in dependency cases in Juvenile Court (OCGA 15-11-9(b)).  To fulfill that mandate, OCA partners with other child advocacy organizations to sponsor several training opportunities designed to meet the CAPTA training requirement.

Guardian ad Litem Training Opportunities:

For lawyers who seek Guardian Ad Litem training, the Office of the Child Advocate offers training classes.  Please stay tuned to our website for update information on future training schedules. 


Child Welfare Attorney Training

Offered bi-annually, typically in April and October of each year, at the State Bar of Georgia.  For more information, visit the Institute of Continuing Legal Education in Georgia at  Past seminars are available online and via videotape, and CLE credits have been approved for this program.

Local Curriculums

Local jurisdictions are also encouraged to develop their own GAL training curriculum.  For assistance or to submit a curriculum to OCA for approval of training content, please contact Ashley Willcott at the Office of the Child Advocate at or by phone at 404-656-4200.