Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare, Toronto, ON: 31 pages.
The Changing Face of Child Welfare Investigations in Ontario: Ontario Incidence Studies of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (OIS 1993/1998) analyzes the changing profile of child welfare investigations in the province through a comparison between the OIS 1993 and OIS 1998. These Ontario studies examine the incidence of reported child maltreatment and the characteristics of children and families investigated by the province’s children’s aid societies. Following a review of some of the recent changes that have been made to child welfare legislation, funding and procedures in Ontario, the OIS 1993/1998 examines changes in the types and severity of investigated maltreatment, as well as the age and gender of investigated children, sources of referrals and outcomes of investigations.
Rates of substantiated maltreatment documented by the 1993 and 1998 Ontario incidence studies have doubled in the past five years. While increasing public awareness and changes in investigation procedures appear to account for part of this change, the increase also reflects a significant shift in the types of maltreatment being investigated and substantiated. Exposure to domestic violence has increased nine-fold and the proportion of neglect cases has more than doubled, while cases of sexual abuse are decreasing. A differentiated response is required to address the maltreatment-specific challenges underlying the child welfare caseload increases in Canada.