In the Child's Best Interests: Preparing Culturally Responsive Guardians ad Litem in Minnesota
Policy Advocacy Brief
Issue Statement/Executive Summary
Guardians ad litem (GALs) serve and advocate for the most vulnerable children in Minnesota. These individuals make recommendations to the courts which can impact the amount of time children are placed out of their homes. The Guardian ad Litem Board sets the qualifications and training requirements for Guardians ad Litem in Minnesota. Guardians ad litem are currently required to participate in 3 hours per year of continuing education in cultural awareness topics; this amount of training is not adequate in relation to the diversity of the population with which the GALs are working. The importance of cultural responsiveness is significant for GALs when 59.2% of children who experienced out-of-home care in 2016 identified one of their races as African American, and 56.0% of children identified at least one of their races as American Indian. It is important that Guardians ad Litem have increased understanding and recognition of diversity and culture to become better advocates for the children they serve, and to keep children of color from being disproportionately placed outside of their homes and families.
Brown, A., Camacho, E., Hunter, T., & Retterath, S. (2018). In the child's best interests: Preparing culturally responsive Guardians ad Litem in Minnesota. MSW Program Policy Briefs, Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/msw-student-policy-advocacy-briefs/10