Recruiting and Retaining a Diverse, Culturally Responsive Guardian ad Litem Volunteer Pool in Durham County
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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY What steps should the Durham County Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program take to further improve its recruitment and retention of diverse, culturally responsive volunteers? The Durham County Guardian ad Litem (GAL) Program is part of a larger state system and national network dedicated to ensuring abused and neglected children have advocates in court. In recent years, the National Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association, a large network of local and state agencies and organizations, has encouraged its members to increase GAL and CASA volunteer diversity. Increasing diversity has become a priority largely because the majority of volunteers nationally are white and female, whereas the majority of children served are African American and male. National CASA encourages offices to recruit more volunteers that reflect “the makeup of the children in the judicial system as well as the local community.” The Durham County GAL Program has been relatively successful in recruiting volunteers that reflect the demographic of the larger Durham population. This has worked because the Durham office takes a holistic approach to assigning volunteers to children, looking at factors that extend beyond race and gender. Nevertheless, because the overall demographics of the volunteers and children are vastly different, the program acknowledges that its recruitment efforts could always be more targeted. The Durham County GAL Program is limited in its ability to make substantial changes to its recruitment and retention efforts, however, because the office lacks the funding and current full-time staff lack the time. METHODOLOGY: To address the Durham County GAL Program’s policy question, I researched best practices for recruiting and retaining diverse and culturally competent volunteers. I performed a literature and resource review on the topic. Additionally, I interviewed staff from National CASA, the North Carolina Guardian ad Litem Program, and local and state programs identified by National CASA as “Inclusion Award” winners. POLICY OPTIONS: My policy options were grouped into two categories: Recruitment and Retention. Altogether, I listed seventeen policy options grouped into different option groups that focused on capacity-building, targeted recruitment, and adopting specific recruitment strategies. Each option group was evaluated against the following three criteria: (1) minimize Durham County GAL Program costs, (2) maximize self-sustainability, and (3) ensure political feasibility. RECOMMENDATIONS: Based on my analysis, I recommend the following policy options under each policy group: Recruitment Option Group #1: Target specific groups Focus recruitment on a particular group(s) of underrepresented advocate volunteers—i.e. African Americans, Hispanics, males. Recruitment Option Group #2: Capacity-building Create a volunteer recruitment committee Recruit more non-advocate volunteers. Recruitment Option Group #3: Specific recruitment strategies If a volunteer recruitment committee is created or if non-advocate volunteers are recruited: any combination of the policy options could be adopted (other than “do nothing”) If no volunteer recruitment committee is created or if non-advocate volunteers are not recruited: do nothing/retain current strategies. Retention Option Group #4: Capacity-building Use non-advocate volunteers to assist with retention efforts.
DepartmentThe Sanford School of Public Policy
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Rights for Collection: Sanford School Master of Public Policy (MPP) Program Master’s Projects