are qualified and receive support to facilitate the development of a permanent caring relationship between the child and his or her guardian.
Note: When the agency is unable to fully implement one or more of the practice
standards, intensive efforts should be made to fully implement the other standards. For example, if the agency is unable to recruit workers with specific qualifications, it can ensure that appropriate supervision
standards are implemented.
Guardianship workers are qualified by:
- an advanced degree in social work or a comparable human service field; or
- a bachelor’s degree in social work or a comparable human service field with two years of related experience.
Supervisors are qualified by an advanced degree in social work or a comparable human service field and two years of experience working with children and families, preferably in adoption or guardianship.
Guardianship workers must be knowledgeable of child welfare practices in their state and have the competencies to:
- counsel families on all available permanency options;
- work effectively with kinship families, including Indian families;
- conduct assessments and identify children with special needs;
- collaborate with several systems including the mental health, judicial, health, and educational systems;
- provide effective case management;
- guide families through the guardianship process;
- help families obtain available benefits, including guardianship subsidies, as appropriate;
- address interstate issues; and
- provide families with the information they need to find necessary support services and the skills they need to obtain them.
Competency can be demonstrated through a combination of education, training
, and experience.
Research Note: The increased attention to guardianship is a direct result of the increasing number of children being placed in the homes of relatives, and the unique dynamics of kinship families.
Guardianship workers and supervisors, depending on job responsibilities, are knowledgeable about relevant provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), including:
- the importance of ICWA and special considerations for working with Indian children;
- the identification of Indian children;
- determining jurisdiction;
- appropriate notice and collaboration with the child's tribe;
- placement preferences that support the child's connection to their native culture and heritage; and
- court procedures.
Guardianship workers maintain a manageable workload, and cases are assigned according to a system that takes into consideration:
- the qualifications and competencies of the worker and the supervisor;
- the complexity and status of the case;
- services provided by other professionals or team members; and
- other responsibilities throughout the agency.
Case complexity can take into account intensity of child and family
needs and size of the family. Generally, caseloads
do not exceed 12-25 families.
Research Note: Staff retention literature indicates that high caseloads and time-consuming paperwork are primary factors in child welfare workforce turnover.
One example of a caseload weighting formula suggests that a useful system is developed with input from staff, time and case study data, uses readily available information, and is not too complex.
Supervisors or experienced workers provide additional support when personnel are new or are still developing competencies.