Circuit Team Award – Vince Rieger, Pat Smith, Pam Peterson, & Kari Marsland-Petit

Team advocacy for the child’s best interests is the hallmark of the GAL Program, and the work of Circuit 6 team – Vince Rieger (Volunteer), Pat Smith (Volunteer), Pam Peterson (Child Advocate Manager), and Kari Marsland-Petit (Best Interests Attorney). They demonstrate why this collaboration is so important for children. Pat and Pam were assigned a difficult and unique case where the children had been in and out of the system for years and were particularly traumatized. They realized the children would benefit from having additional support and recruited Vince, who is known for his ability to develop a rapport with children who are in tough cases. The case had a long history, and when the Program learned the plan was to try “more of the same,” the GAL team worked tirelessly to demonstrate the children needed a better solution and to make it happen.  Kari filed a TPR petition, and was ultimately able to persuade the Department to join the TPR petition. Still focused on the children, the team advocated and obtained surrenders from the parents so the children did not have to testify or suffer through a prolonged termination of parental rights process.  By seeing the case through the eyes of the child, understanding the dynamics of their situation, and employing strong legal advocacy, this team brought these children from a dark reality to a brighter future.  Thank you to Vince, Pat, Pam and Kari for combining all your unique talents to achieve one mission:  I am for the Child!