There are both state and federal laws that regulate what is allowed and what must be done when a ward participates in a research study.
Legal guardianship in Michigan ranges in the level of authority granted to a guardian. If a child who is a prospective subject in a research study is determined to be a ward, the study team must request to see a copy of the guardianship papers to assure the guardian has legal authority to consent to the child's participation in research.
Federal regulations 45 CFR 46.409 and 21 CFR 50.56 require additional protections when children who are wards of the state or any other entity are enrolled in research that poses greater than minimal risk and does not present a prospect of direct benefit (45 CFR 46.406 and .407; and 21 CFR 50.53 and 54).
Specifically (45 CFR 46.409(a); 21 CFR 50.56(a)), children who are wards of the state or any other agency, institution, or entity can be included in research approved under 45 CFR 46.406 and/or 21CFR 50.53, or under 45 CFR 46.407 and/or 21 CFR 50.54, only if such research is
- Related to their status as wards; or
- Conducted in schools, camps, hospitals, institutions, or similar settings in which the majority of children involved as subjects are not wards.
The regulations further require (45 CFR 46.409(b); 21 CFR 50.56(b)) appointment of an advocate for each child who is a ward. The advocate will serve in addition to any other individual acting on behalf of the child as guardian or in loco parentis. One individual may serve as advocate for more than one child. The advocate must be an individual who has the background and experience to act in, and agrees to act in, the best interest of the child for the duration of the child's participation in the research and the advocate must also not be associated in any way (except in the role as advocate or member of the IRB) with the research, the investigator(s), or the organization.