A Qualitative Study of Collaboration Between Guardians Ad Litem and Caseworkers in the Child Welfare System.
Phillips, Jon D.
Published: January 2016
Children and Youth Services Review
Vol. 60 , p. 61-67
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Various agencies and professionals in the child welfare system work together to prevent and treat child maltreatment. Prior research suggests their ability to collaborate is related to outcomes for children and families and agencies often implement strategies to improve collaboration. However, a review of the literature indicated a lack of research on collaboration between Guardians ad litem (GALs) and child protective services caseworkers. Examination of this relationship is warranted considering federal law mandates GALs be appointed for children in all court-involved child protection cases. This qualitative study begins to address this gap by exploring the GAL perspective on factors that promote or inhibit collaboration between themselves and caseworkers. Interviews were conducted with 12 GALs in a mountain region state. Participants emphasized five individual-level factors that impact the frequency and quality of collaboration with caseworkers. These include frequent and open communication, mutual respect, understanding the other's role and responsibilities, having an open mind, and valuing collaboration. Participants described in detail how these factors facilitate collaboration despite the organizational and systemic obstacles to working together. The findings may help explain why collaboration does not necessarily occur in frontline practice despite the presence of organizational policies and procedures intending to improve collaboration. These findings have several implications for improving GAL–caseworker collaboration in order to better serve children and families in the child welfare system. (Author abstract)
GUARDIANS AD LITEM; CHILD ADVOCACY; CHILDRENS RIGHTS; COURTS; caseworkers; partnerships; interagency collaboration; child protection; child abuse