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Creating Positive Systems of Child and Family Welfare

Creating Positive Systems of Child and Family Welfare: Congruence with the Everyday Lives of Children and Parents

Gary Cameron
Marshall Fine
Sarah Maiter
Karen Frensch
Nancy Freymond
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Creating Positive Systems of Child and Family Welfare
    Book Description:

    Based on findings from a decade's worth of research,Creating Positive Systems of Child and Family Welfareprovides original reflections on the everyday realities of families and front-line service providers involved with the system.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6626-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-20)

    The North American approach to child protection remains the focus of persistent criticism. Whatever modifications have been made to this approach over recent decades, its core limitations remain evident – including parental fear and resistance, a limited range of services and supports available to families, escalating costs, and high service provider stress and turnover. Nonetheless, this child protection system’s basic orientation and how it is organized remain broadly accepted. For most, it’s simply how the work is done. Arguably the core elements of this child protection model (i.e., focus on children as individuals, investigation of families, holding parents accountable, reliance on...

  5. 1 Fathers and Child Welfare
    (pp. 21-43)

    Fathers are marginalized both in thinking about child welfare interventions and in considerations of what children need in their lives (Dominelli et al., 2011; Leslie et al., 2011; Strega et al., 2008). They are often relegated to the background when families are engaged by child welfare authorities. When they are considered, it is more often as sources of difficulty than as a potentially positive resource for children and families.

    This chapter provides an overview of the findings about everyday living and child welfare service involvements from 18 life stories collected from fathers involved with one Children’s Aid Society in Southern...

  6. 2 Mothers and Child Welfare
    (pp. 44-66)

    As scholars and service providers, it is easy to behave as if we have an accurate, and perhaps even superior, understanding of the people who use child welfare services. In official conversations, where important decisions affecting these people’s lives are made, it is our voices, and our determinations about what aspects of others’ lives are relevant, that are privileged. Our education and our professional interests combine to make us publicly confident in our judgments and unquestioning about our right to decide. Our benevolence is taken for granted.

    Of specific concern is that the images of families in these portraits are...

  7. 3 Stand by Me, Engage Me: Reviewing Child Protection Experiences and Preferences of Mothers and of Fathers
    (pp. 67-93)

    One important step on the way to honing client services in any helping organization is to learn from the experiences of the primary stakeholders – clients and service providers. Historically, more has been heard from providers; however, of late, researchers have been interested in hearing about the experiences of service recipients/clients (Davies, 2011; Fine, Palmer, & Coady, 2007). Clients are in unique positions to assess the impact that helping practices have on their lives. As other chapters in this volume illustrate, in child protection parents often feel that they are in precarious positions, considering the legal authority child protection providers have...

  8. 4 Home Truths: What Mothers of Children in Placement Say about Their Lives
    (pp. 94-114)

    Since the inception of systems of child welfare, out-of-home placement has been a principal method of protecting children from various forms of maternal abuse and neglect. The removal of a child from a mother’s care, whether by agreement of those involved or not, is seldom a neutral event. The lives of children, their family members, and others with whom they have significant connections are deeply affected and sometimes permanently altered by out-of-home placement.

    There are parts of mothers’ experiences of child placement that are difficult to write about, and perhaps difficult to read. This chapter is not an indictment of...

  9. 5 Invisible Lives: A Qualitative Study of 61 Parents Receiving Child Protective Services
    (pp. 115-138)

    In this chapter, we report on findings from one of the methods employed by the Partnerships for Children and Families Project to better understand the state of child welfare services in Ontario. Starting from the perspective that service participants’ views of their lives and their experiences can provide insights into service development and respectful approaches to service delivery, we embarked on a qualitative approach that sought to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the lives of families coming to the attention of child protective services (CPS). We also wanted to understand their experiences of child welfare interventions.

    Traditionally, the view that...

  10. 6 “I Knew, Maybe, This One Is Real”: A Study of Six Good Worker-Client Relationships in Child Welfare
    (pp. 139-167)

    Research in counselling and psychotherapy has confirmed the longheld social work belief that the quality of a helping relationship is an important determinant of client outcome (Horvath, 2001; Lambert & Ogles, 2004). Such research has established that a good helping relationship is characterized by mutual respect, acceptance, trust, warmth, liking, understanding, and collaboration (Lambert & Ogles, 2004; Orlinsky, Ronnestad, & Willutzki, 2004). There is also evidence to suggest that similar relationship factors are important to child welfare work (Dore & Alexander, 1996; Drake, 1994, 1996; Lee & Ayón, 2004; Littell, 2001; Maluccio, 1979; Shulman, 1978; Yatchmenoff, 2005). However, when the...

  11. 7 Bridging or Maintaining Distance: A Matched Comparison of Parent and Service Provider Perceptions
    (pp. 168-197)

    When child welfare service providers and parents engage with each other, do they have similar impressions of what is important and what is helpful? Do they have comparable assessments of their interactions and the services provided? Are there systemic or interpersonal processes that increase or reduce the psychological and social distance between service providers and parents? Is there shared motivation between parents and service providers to reduce this distance?

    This chapter offers a structured comparison of the perspectives of service providers, parents, and the views reflected in “official records” – the files that describe parents, children, and the services provided. We...

  12. 8 See Us. Hear Us. Work with Us: Families and Family & Child Services
    (pp. 198-219)

    Our interest in family experiences of child welfare services comes from a strong practice background with families and from agreement with others (Combrinck-Graham, 2006; Walsh, 2006b) that the family occupies a central position in the socialization, resilience, and well-being of children and all family members. We were concerned, therefore, at the time this study was undertaken, that child welfare in Ontario (Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth, 2005) was only secondarily addressing the needs of the family in carrying out its mandate for the protection of the child (Cameron & Freymond, 2006). The protection focus, while essential, meant that the...

  13. 9 Parents’ Views of Child Welfare Helping Relationships in Accessible and in Central Service Delivery Settings
    (pp. 220-236)

    Freymond and Cameron (2006) present evidence of an emerging consensus about the central importance of building positive helping relationships in the major child and family welfare paradigms in Western countries. There is ample evidence that cooperative relationships with child welfare service providers are valued by children and parents (Cooper Altman, 2008a, 2008b; Chapman, Gibbons, Barth, McCrae, & NSCAW Research Group, 2003; Drake, 1994; Gockel, Russell, & Harris, 2008; Lee & Ayón, 2004). The study by Frensch and Cameron matching child protection service provider and parent perspectives presented in an earlier chapter suggested at least a cautious openness by both parties...

  14. 10 When the Going Gets Tough: A Workplace Study of Four Southern Ontario Children’s Aid Societies
    (pp. 237-261)

    During the late 1990s, child welfare in Ontario was substantially reformed, guided by the new Ontario Risk Assessment Model (ORAM). Despite some benefits, this reform was linked with many challenges for front-line child protective service providers. About 10 years later, dissatisfaction with ORAM led to a second major reform, the Transformation Agenda (TA) that currently guides child protection services in Ontario. Even more recently, the Commission to Promote Sustainable Child Welfare in Ontario (2010) began searching for ways to build a more satisfactory organization of child welfare in Ontario. Among other issues, such as escalating system costs and rigidities, some...

  15. 11 Child Protection Jobs in Accessible and Central Service Delivery Settings
    (pp. 262-282)

    An earlier chapter in this volume provided evidence that parents involved with accessible (school-and community-based) services made different assessments of their relationships with service providers and other service involvements from parents at central service delivery sites. Generally, parents involved with accessible sites were significantly more satisfied with their involvements with child welfare services and indicated that they were more likely to ask for help in the future if difficulties arose. This chapter presents the results of an investigation comparing the employment experiences of front-line child protection service workers at the same 11 central and accessible service delivery settings.¹ It also...

  16. Creating Positive Systems of Child and Family Welfare: Questions and Suggestions
    (pp. 283-302)

    The forces of inertia in a system as large and well-established as child welfare in Ontario are very powerful. Attempts at major reforms of Ontario’s child welfare system over the past couple of decades, while they have had notable impacts, have left the core ideology, service delivery structures, and relationships with clientele largely unchanged. Also, from our perspective, the continuing dominant position of the central ministry in this system represents the most intractable barrier to substantive reforms consistent with the principles described in this chapter. Consistent with this bureaucratic culture, elaboration of standard rules, regulations, and documentation procedures and assuring...

  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 303-326)
  18. Index
    (pp. 327-337)