One Vision One Voice Knowledge Centre

Read the latest Canadian research from the social work sector. This issue we've compiled a list ranging from research about mandated reporters and their experiences with the child welfare system to new research about the relationship between child protection contact and mental health outcomes among Canadian adults with a child abuse history.

Mandated reporters’ experiences with reporting child maltreatment: a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies (2017)

FULL TEXT (Canadian)

  • Most comprehensive review to date of mandatory reporting of child maltreatment, focusing on mandated reporters’ experiences with reporting.
  • Meta-synthesis of retrieved qualitative research assessing the effectiveness of mandatory reporting.
  • While some articles described positive experiences mandated reporters had with the reporting process, negative experiences were reported in 73% of articles and included accounts of harm to therapeutic relationships and child death following removal from their family of origin.
  • Unable to find any high-quality research studies suggesting that mandatory reporting and associated responses do more good than harm.
  • findings of this meta-synthesis suggest that there are many potentially harmful experiences associated with mandatory reporting and that research on the effectiveness of this process is urgently needed.
  • Poor communication or collaboration between child welfare and mandated reporters has long been cited as an area for much needed improvement.


The relationship between child protection contact and mental health outcomes among Canadian adults with a child abuse history (2018)

FULL TEXT (Canadian)

  • Paper examines whether contact with child welfare is associated with improved mental health outcomes among adult respondents who reported experiencing child abuse.
  • Data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey-Mental Health (CCHS-2012) and included in this study were individuals aged 18 years and older living in the 10 Canadian provinces (N = 23,395).
  • For the majority of outcomes, there were no statistically significant differences between adults with a child abuse history who had child welfare contact compared to those without child welfare contact. However, those with child welfare contact were more likely to report lifetime suicide attempts. These findings suggest that child welfare contact is not associated with improved mental health outcomes.
  • It is possible that children who receive services are experiencing greater maltreatment severity and chronicity, and as such have poorer outcomes, although in this study efforts were made to control for maltreatment severity.


Troubled teens and challenged caregivers: Characteristics associated with the decision to provide child welfare services to adolescents in Ontario, Canada (2018)

FULL TEXT (Canadian)

  • Paper examines characteristics of alleged maltreatment, functioning concerns, caregiver risk factors, and socioeconomic conditions associated with the decision to provide ongoing child welfare services to adolescents and their families.
  • Uses data from the provincially representative Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (OIS-2013).
  • For Black children and youth, the disparities are greater for adolescent children.
  • Race is most significant in the presence of child functioning concerns, caregiver risk factors, and poor socioeconomic conditions, suggesting that in the context of higher risk, race does matter in decision-making.
  • A limitation of the OIS-2013 is that workers who were primarily responsible for conducting the investigation completed the data collection instrument at the conclusion of the investigation and the information was not independently verified. Workers could first make decisions about a case and then complete the data collection instrument to justify their assessment.


Factors that determine decision making in child protection investigations: A review of the literature (2018)

FULL TEXT (Includes Canadian Papers)

  • A systematic review of the literature on factors that determine decision making in child protection investigations. Literature review includes papers from Ontario.
  • Decision making is better explained by characteristics of the child welfare organization than by characteristics of the child welfare worker.


Racialization, Silences and the Negotiation of Power Within Child Welfare Institutions in Ontario (2016)

FULL TEXT (Canadian)

  • Paper examines the employment experiences of racialized social workers in Ontario, many of whom were immigrants.
  • Data for the study was generated through interviews with fifteen racialized social workers and a focus group involving six racialized social workers. The workers were from varying racial backgrounds: Filipino, West Indian, African, Jamaican, Punjab and Black Canadian.
  • Participants stated they were mistaken as clients by other professionals: “when I walked into court, the lawyer felt that I was the mother [client]. So, in her mind, a racialized person cannot be a worker, so they must be a client.
  • Participants indicated that clients are skeptical of the racialized workers’ occupational status and competence and tend to be resistant to their suggestions on how to deal with various issues.
  • Many participants frequently used the terms “respectful,” “diplomatic” and “biting your tongue”, raising the question of what is and what is not allowed in discussions about race issues. These terms not only reflect the unwritten organizational rules, but also demonstrate how power operates in terms of “governing the self.” Self-surveillance was clearly taking place in terms of what could be said and could not be said.
  • A participant stated that racialized workers have a fear that if they advocate or stand up for a Black family they will be seen as radicals.
  • It is imperative to engage in difficult but crucial conversations that can contribute to the identification of ways to address tensions and awkward silences on matters of race in the context of social work and child welfare work.
  • It is always the responsibility of the supervisor, as a person in a position of influence and power, to create a work environment that allows for the discussion of race issues.


Culturally Safe Health Initiatives for Indigenous Peoples in Canada: A Scoping Review (2018)

FULL TEXT (Canadian)

  • Scoping review of the literature pertaining to culturally safe health promotion programs, initiatives, services, or care for the Indigenous population in Canada.
  • Cultural Safety is unique from cultural competence, awareness, or sensitivity because it is not centered on the acquisition of knowledge. It is centered on acknowledging and respecting service recipients attributes, such as their everyday activities, personal values, and life experiences, and on understanding the impact of a workers own culture on interactions with service recipeints and their associated privilege as a worker. Applying Cultural Safety through recognition of biases and critical self-reflection diminishes the risk of unsafe decision making that result from cognitive errors or stereotypes.
  • Six themes were identified in the provision of culturally safe initiatives: collaboration/partnerships, power sharing, address the broader context of the service recipeint’s life, safe environment, organizational and individual level self-reflection, and training for workers.


A patient and family data domain collection framework for identifying disparities in pediatrics: results from the pediatric health equity collaborative (2018)

FULL TEXT (Part Canadian)

  • A panel of 16 research and clinical professional experts working in 10 pediatric care delivery systems in the United States and Canada systematically reviewed unique aspects of data collection in the pediatric setting and developed best practices.
  • Collection on caregivers and determining an age at which it is appropriate to collect data from the patient were noted as unique challenges of collecting data in the pediatric setting.
  • Several questions were asked from the patient and caregiver.
  • Language questions such as ‘How well do you speak English’ and ‘Do you need an interpreter’ were asked.
  • Clearly defining the age at which youth will be asked demographic data is recommended. For example, Hospital for Sick Kids and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto, Canada, have implemented a policy that children who are 13 and older respond to all demographic questions. As well, they do not collect data on sexual orientation or gender identity from patients who are 12 or younger because these questions cannot be asked in private without the caregiver.