CWRP Information Sheet #195E. 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. This Information Sheet examines school-based referrals for child maltreatment-related concerns to the Ontario child welfare system in 2018. School closures during the COVID-19 pandemic are a source of concern given the isolation of children and families and the stress that economic instability, social isolation, and not having regular access to services creates for caregivers and children. In Quebec, there is already a noted 25 to 40 percent decrease in the number of cases reported to child protection services since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, which can be explained, at least in part, by reduced safeguarding measures in schools that usually facilitate detection. To better appreciate the nature of the cases that are usually detected by schools and brought to the attention of child protection services, this Information Sheet describes school referrals to child welfare authorities in Ontario in 2018, including: the nature of the concern, functioning concerns for the primary caregiver, household context, household income source, child age categories, child functioning concerns, and referrals made to internal or external services at the conclusion of the investigation.