Skip to main content
State Seal State Seal State Seal
Home Button Home Button Home Button

Ohio House, Pavliga Pass Bill to Protect and Enhance Child-Caring Programs

June 21, 2023
Gail K. Pavliga News

Press Release Thumbnail

State Rep. Gail Pavliga (R-Portage County) announces that House Bill 122 passed today within the Ohio House of Representatives. The legislation increases legal protections for Guardian ad Litems (GALs) and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) involved in representing children. Pavliga is a joint sponsor of the bipartisan bill as she spoke to it on the House floor.

“They are advocates appointed by a judge to determine what is in the best interest of a party, usually minors or adults subject to guardianship who do not have an attorney of their own,” Pavliga said. “These individuals serve the court, but are not afforded the same protections as officers of the court.”

Pavliga has noted that GALs and CASAs receive harassment and intimidation from individuals disagreeing with their court assignment. Due to these incidents, the bill makes it a first-degree misdemeanor for someone that knowingly abuses, threatens, or harasses a GAL or CASA in carrying out their court-mandated duties for the protection of children across the state.

With a shortage of GALs and CASAs due to these incidents, Pavliga has worked over the last two years to enhance the programs.

Pavliga has worked to improve and establish these programs with this legislation and by collaborating with local officials, including Judge Patricia Smith, Doug Stephens from Ohio CASA, and the new Portage County CASA Executive Director Ann Walden.

“CASA volunteers are just that, volunteers. These are not paid professionals. CASA volunteers choose to take on this role because they believe in protecting and advocating for the most vulnerable children,” Walden said. “They deserve to be protected because they perform a valuable mission for children.”

Such improvements include allocating into the last state budget bill increased appropriations for CASAs and to establish CASA programs in areas of the state where they are not yet established.

"As a passionate CASA in Portage County I feel not only with this bill raise awareness to the valuable work we do, it will also be a strong protection we so desperately need as we deal with delicate and emotional situations with children and their families,” said Marilyn Sessions, a volunteer at CASA of Portage County. “Thank you very much for the recognition of CASA Day and the critical work we do."

Pavliga sponsored the legislation during the 134th General Assembly where it also passed in the lower chamber. House Bill 122 now advances to the Senate and awaits further consideration.