Hospital Referrals for Child Maltreatment-Related Concerns to the Ontario Child Welfare System in 2018

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CWRP Information Sheet #201E. 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. Hospitals represent an important referral source to child welfare, particularly for young children who are less likely to interact with other formal societal structures such as schools. During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals might be an especially important referral source as other social and educational services, including schools and daycares, are closed. On the other hand, families might be less likely to seek medical care during this time, and hospital personnel, like other professional referral sources, may be less able to identify children at risk of child maltreatment-related concerns. To better appreciate the nature of cases that are usually detected by hospitals and brought to the attention of child protection services, this Information Sheet describes the context and outcomes of hospital referrals to child welfare authorities in Ontario in 2018, including: the nature of the concern, functioning concerns for the primary caregiver, household income source, child age categories, child functioning concerns, referrals made to internal or external services at the conclusion of the investigation, and provision of ongoing services.

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