OCR’s Multidisciplinary Law Office Pilot Project
In 2003, the General Assembly instructed OCR in SB 03-258 Footnote 118 to study alternative methods of providing GAL services in dependency and neglect cases, specifically whether OCR could implement a multidisciplinary office in Denver similar to the OCR El Paso GAL Office. In May 2010, the OCR issued a Request for Proposals for the creation of multidisciplinary law offices in Denver and Arapahoe counties. In January 2011, the OCR contracted with three such offices to implement a multidisciplinary approach to GAL services in those two counties.
OCR established the multidisciplinary law offices as a 30 month pilot project from January 1, 2011 through June 30, 2013. The offices are staffed by attorneys and social service professionals with the goal of providing innovative and efficient GAL services resulting in better outcomes for children. In addition to implementing a multidisciplinary approach to cases, the offices operate under enhanced practice standards and provide supervision and accountability.
The OCR has partnered with the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work to evaluate the effectiveness of the multidisciplinary law office as a model of delivering legal services to children in juvenile court proceedings. The study is currently underway. It specifically focuses on understanding how the multidisciplinary law offices function and whether this model has enhanced GAL practice in Arapahoe, Denver, and El Paso counties. The research is scheduled to be completed next spring, with findings scheduled to be reported in June 2013.