42nd Edition (July 2015)

Date Published: 

Alaggia, R., & Gadalla, T. M., Shlonsky, A., Jenney, A., Daciuk, J., (2015). Does differential response make a difference: Examining domestic violence cases in child protection services. Child and Family Social Work, 20(1), 83-95.

This study used mixed methods, statistical analysis and family interviews, to determine how Differential Response Models are reflected in child welfare practice and case outcomes that involve domestic violence (DV). In other words, they wanted to see how using a ‘not one-size-fits-all’ approach in assessment and intervention of families experiencing exposure to domestic violence versus other forms of maltreatment were faring. The study was conducted across five child welfare agencies across southern and eastern Ontario over 18 months.

Authors found that most DV cases were initially referred by police; first-time cases received longer and more intense intervention than re-opened cases; interventions tended to focus on parent-victims (mainly mothers), with little to none on perpetrators (mainly fathers). Children were referred for help with emotional harm less than the authors had expected, and non-white families were over-represented.

Systemic factors were stressed versus any shortcomings of child welfare workers (e.g. wait times for childrens’ mental health services; child welfare workers being empowered to initiate or follow up on DV perpetrator interventions). The authors’ conclude that much DV intervention is determined by the behaviour of the mother, specifically if she takes measures to remove herself or the children from the perpetrator.   

Fast, E., Trocmé, N., Fallon, B., & Ma, J. (2014). A troubled group? Adolescents in a Canadian child welfare sample. Children and Youth Services Review, 46, 47-54.

This study aimed to fill in a research gap regarding adolescents and how child welfare responds to adolescents once an investigation has been initiated. The authors examine characteristics of the adolescents and their homes (e.g. type of maltreatment, socioeconomic status) to determine how and what service provision(s) follow, up to and including out-of-home placement.

By using secondary data analysis of the Canadian Incidence Study on Child Abuse and Neglect (2008), the authors drew several conclusions. Firstly, adolescents who were exhibiting internalized problems (e.g. depression) were most likely to receive ongoing service. Secondly, adolescents who exhibited external problems (e.g. drug abuse, aggression) were more likely to be placed in out-of home care. Despite being investigated less often than other age categories, adolescents tended to receive ongoing service as much as younger children, with the exception of those under the age of three.

Overall, the authors suggest that service decisions are determined by how these adolescents are functioning internally, and placement decisions are driven by how they are behaving externally. Notably, the study confirmed that Aboriginal children are more likely to be investigated, provided service to, and placed in out-of-home care than non-Aboriginal children.