39th Edition (April 2014)

Date Published

Lefebvre, R., Van Wert, M., Black, T., Fallon, B., & Trocmé, N. (2013). A profile of exposure to intimate partner violence investigations in the Canadian child welfare system: An examination using the 2008 Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS-2008). International Journal of Child and Adolescent Resilience, 1(1), 60-73.

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a central focus in the Canadian child welfare system. Using the Canadian Incidence Study (CIS)-2008 this study provides a profile of IPV investigations substantiated by child welfare organizations. Findings indicate that 41% of substantiations involved IPV (31% involved IPV as the only form of maltreatment and 10% involved IPV with co-occurring forms of maltreatment). Child functioning concerns were noted less frequently in investigations of a single form of IPV than in investigations with co-occurring IPV investigations. Housing type is very similar across the four types of investigations where the majority of all investigations in a housing rental situation. Co-occurring maltreatment investigations were much more likely, than single form of IPV investigations, to involve a formal out-of-home placement. Authors suggest that exposure to IPV requires cross-sector collaboration and that child welfare organizations should aim to identify opportunities to preclude recurrence while supporting the family through the investigation.

Popova, S., Lange, S., Burd, L., & Rehm, J. (2013). Canadian children and youth in care: The cost of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. Child Youth Care Forum, 11, 1-14.

The exact prevalence of children and youth with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) who live in out-of-home care in Canada is unknown. The current study hypothesized that the prevalence of children living in out-of-home care in Canada with FASD is higher than the general population, resulting in a significant economic cost. Federal, provincial, and territorially reported statistics informed the estimated number of children who live in out-of-home care with FASD. The total cost per day of caring for a child or youth with FASD living in out-of-home care was calculated using an inflation calculator and drawing on findings of a previous Canadian study that estimated the financial cost by age group and gender. Findings indicated that the estimated number of children and youth living in out-of-home care with FASD in Canada ranged between 2,225 and 7,620, and the annual cost ranged between $57.9 and $198.3 million depending on the province/territory. The difficulties faced by these children and families should be considered, as well as the economic cost of FASD, when examining the issue of FASD and child welfare. The authors suggest that focusing attention on the needs of this population and prevention efforts will help reduce the incidence of FASD in Canada.

Saini, M., Black, T., Lwin, K., Marshall, A., Fallon, B., Goodman, D. (2012). Child protection workers' experiences of working with high-conflict separating families. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(7), 1309-1316.

This qualitative study explored child welfare workers’ perceptions of working with high-conflict families. Four focus groups with 28 child welfare workers were conducted at an urban child welfare organization in Ontario. Grounded theory analyses revealed several themes pertaining to workers’ perceptions of high-conflict families and how to work with them through the child welfare system. Participants expressed differing views about the definition of ‘high-conflict’ and how high-conflict intersects with other child welfare issues. Identified common characteristics of high-conflict families include the presence of manipulation through the child welfare system in order to solicit support, a state of perpetual crisis, a lack of communication between parents, and domestic violence. Participants expressed a lack of clarity around the role of child welfare with high-conflict families and frustration when working with professionals outside of child welfare. Working with high-conflict families had a significant emotional impact for participants. Feelings of being caught in the middle and trepidation were identified as factors that negatively impacted the worker’s ability to support families. Due to their excessive needs high-conflict families were identified as taking time from other child maltreatment cases. Participants suggested training, specialized teams, and collaboration with systems outside of child welfare as potential areas of development.

Stokes, J. & Schmidt, G. (2012). Child protection decision making: A factorial analysis using case vignettes. Social Work, 57(1), 83-90.

Using case vignettes, this study explored the decision making of child welfare practitioners in British Columbia. Case and organizational factors were measured in terms of how they influence decisions about risk level, service provision, and importance of client contact. Results indicate that practitioner decisions were made through an integration of objective, procedural, and experiential knowledge. Risk level and service provision decisions were influenced by the practitioner degree, supervision satisfaction, and child welfare experience, as well as case factors. The amount of contact with service users and importance of home visits were significantly influenced by practitioner gender, age, degree, role, job satisfaction, community experience, delegation experience, and practice in urban location. Authors suggest that child welfare decision-making goes beyond full reliance on decision-making tools and that internalized subjective knowledge plays a role in the process.