The Experiences of Minority Immigrant Families Receiving Child Welfare Services: Seeking to Understand How to Reduce Risk and Increase Protective Factors

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Families in Society, Volume 90, Issue 1, pp. 28-36.

The authors sought to better understand the impact of migration, the resources lost immigrating to Canada and the possible link to child welfare involvement.  An inductive qualitative approach was used to interview 20 participants of South Asian heritage in a large cosmopolitan city in Canada. Interviews included questions regarding family history, migration history, settlement history, impact of cultural and racial diversity, availability of social supports in the new country, financial resources, the psychological impact of migration, parent-child/parenting issues, and child protection involvement. Families interviewed had been in Canada for a mean of 12 years, educational levels ranged from high school to postsecondary professional degrees, mean income was $30,000, and most participants were in intact marriages with an average of 2 children.

Major themes drawn out by interviews were the following: loneliness and a lack of available supports, financial strain, unrecognized credentials, and struggles to find work, language struggles, a struggle to provide for the family, and a sense of betrayal and hopelessness at what migration had to offer. The authors found that these themes all had a major impact on parent-child relations, often resulting in child welfare involvement.

The authors concluded that several stressors could be targeted by child welfare agencies and social services programs; however, the overall loss of resources could not be easily addressed. The loss of important resources to these families was felt with a long-standing, powerful impact. Recommendations for practice include: trying to limit the resource loss these families experience by linking newcomers with other community partners and those who share their cultural practices, thereby reducing sense of isolation.  They also recommended providing quality affordable and readily available housing for newcomers. The authors note that child welfare professionals need to help families address the demands made by their environments as well as other child welfare related factors.

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Canadian CW research
Journal article