Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Departmental Honors


Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology


The use of Guardians ad Litem (GALs) in child abuse and neglect cases has become increasingly common throughout the world. It has, in fact, become standard procedure in child welfare proceedings in the United States. GALs are charged with presenting children's best interests in court and ensuring that each child has a voice in the process. Ideally, GALs are consistently effective in doing so. However, GALs have extremely high caseloads that potentially limit the time they can spend with their children. In addition, little research has been done on what qualities make an effective GAL. Knowing what qualities increase GAL effectiveness is of paramount importance because these attorneys are charged with representing disadvantaged children who otherwise may not get a voice in their fate. This pilot study involved conducting semi-structured interviews with youths aged 15-18 who are currently in foster care in Utah, or who have recently aged out, or who have been reunified with their parents in the past two years since living in foster care. These interviews were directed at their experience with GALs in court in order to gauge what makes or would make the court process the least stressful and most conducive to achieving the child's best interests.

Included in

Social Work Commons



Faculty Mentor

Jennifer Roark

Departmental Honors Advisor

Terry Peak