Suppose you have been asked to review and reevaluate the findings of a quantitative, quasi-experimental, state-level study regarding the impact of the Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program in a single state. Data has been collected for 200 children over two years. One group had GALs assigned to them and the other did not. The GAL program attempts to provide a voice for abused and neglected children through the use of citizen volunteers as opposed to attorneys. GALs act as advocates for children in judicial proceedings and placement in permanent and safe homes. The study evaluated the effectiveness of the program in achieving positive outcomes for the children. These outcomes involved everything from court continuance and closures, increases in services, and adoptions and number of placements.
The study concluded that, although it did make a difference with respect to most of the outcome variables, there was no apparent effect on types of placements of the children during the study period of two years. Placements ranged from least to most restrictive such as permanent homes, foster homes, shelters, and institutions.
As a reviewer, you suspect that this finding or absence thereof might be illuminated by a different approach so you propose a qualitative evaluation design to focus on this question.
Because children are being used in this study, are there ethical considerations that must be considered along with the method selection?