What are the critical indicators of effectiveness of a VGAL? An evaluation of the Snohomish County Volunteer Guardian Ad Litem Program
Hughes, Stephanie G.
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The child welfare system in the United States is experiencing an increasing number of cases of abused and neglected children and a lack of Volunteers Guardian Ad Litem (VGALs) available for each case. A VGAL is a court-appointed special advocate who represents a child’s best interests in dependency cases. The purpose of this study is to address a gap in literature that explores the effectiveness of VGALs by gathering data from the volunteers themselves instead of case outcomes. This study interviews ten VGALs in Snohomish County with the intent to produce a more in depth picture of what indicators of effectiveness were common to successful volunteers. The potential factors of effectiveness identified in this study are personal development, belief in program, support systems, balance and objectivity, and personal identity. A better understanding of what makes a VGAL effective could lay the groundwork for future quantitative studies, as well as be used to identify areas of strength or weakness for future program improvement and policy.
- MA in Policy Studies