Children with Noted Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities in Child Maltreatment-Related Investigations in Ontario in 2018

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CWRP Information Sheet #198E. Toronto, ON: Canadian Child Welfare Research Portal.

The Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect 2018 (OIS-2018) is the sixth provincial study to examine the incidence of reported child maltreatment and the characteristics of children and families investigated by child welfare authorities in Ontario. An estimated 158,476 child maltreatment-related investigations involving children aged 0-17 were conducted by child welfare authorities in 2018. Ten percent of these investigations (an estimated 16,178 investigations) involved a child with a noted disability, including physical and intellectual/developmental disabilities.

For many parents, caring for children with disabilities presents unique challenges. The added stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to control the spread of disease can be particularly detrimental to children with disabilities and their families. For example, the closure of community supports, including schools, some medical practices, and other social agencies can leave children without important social interactions, therapy and other treatments. Additional restrictions on being outside and guidelines outlining physical distancing can make it extraordinarily difficult for caregivers to maintain their children’s regular routines. Physical distancing may also result in fewer formal and informal supports for caregivers. Child welfare-involved children with disabilities represent an especially vulnerable group. To understand the nature of the cases involving children with disabilities that are brought to the attention of Ontario child welfare agencies, this Information Sheet describes child maltreatment-related investigations involving children with noted intellectual or developmental disabilities conducted in Ontario in 2018, including: the source of referral, the primary concern of the investigation, risk factors for the primary caregivers, transfers to ongoing child welfare services, referrals made to internal or external services, and reasons for not making referrals at the conclusion of the investigation. This Information Sheet examines the profile of the estimated 15,169 child maltreatment-related investigations specifically involving children with noted intellectual or developmental disabilities investigated by Ontario child welfare authorities in 2018. 

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