The Children's Advocate

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This study uses quantitative and qualitative data analysis to address whether the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program helps abused, neglected, and dependent children in four judicial districts near Duke University: District 10 (Wake County), District 14 (Durham), District 15A (Alamance), and District 15B (Orange and Chatham). The GAL program is a volunteer-based advocacy program that provides local courts with information and recommendations about a child’s best interest based on independent investigations in order to help the courts determine the child’s permanent placement in a timely manner. North Carolina established the GAL program over 30 years ago to represent the interests of abused and neglected children by giving them a voice in court.
This study evaluates the GAL program’s success at meeting its goal to promote child welfare in North Carolina. By assessing data from the GAL program, the study suggests that the amount of time and attention given to each child’s case correlates with the amount of information the GAL program provides to the court and the length of time the cases remain open. Through interviews with judges, GAL volunteers, and program staff, the study explains the ways in which the GAL program helps children by assisting the court system. Finally, this study presents a series of recommendations based on the findings from the quantitative data and interviews regarding how the GAL program can improve its efforts and be more helpful to children. This study provides recommendations to respond to the limitations and strengths of the GAL program raised by quantitative and qualitative data. These recommendations address the program on a district level as well as larger statewide program procedures and funding levels.


Honors Thesis for Sanford School of Public Policy





Peeples, Camille (2014). The Children's Advocate. Honors thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from

Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.