Urgent Protection versus Chronic Need: Clarifying the Dual Mandate of Child Welfare Services across Canada
This study analyzed data from the 1998, 2003 and 2008 Canadian Incidence Study of reported child abuse and neglect (CIS) and compared the profile of children who were reported for an urgent protection investigation versus any other investigation or assessment. As a proportion of all investigations, urgent protection cases have dropped from 28% of all investigations in 1998, to 19% in 2003, to 15% in 2008. Results from the CIS-2008 analysis revealed that 7% of cases involved neglect of a child under four, 4% of cases involved sexual abuse, 2% of cases involved physical abuse of a child under four and 1% of cases involved children who had sustained severe enough physical harm that medical treatment was required. The other 85% of cases of investigated maltreatment involved situations where concerns appear to focus less on immediate safety and more on the long-term effects of a range of family related problems. These findings underscore the importance of considering the dual mandate of child welfare mandates across Canada: intervening to assure the urgent protection and safety of the child versus intervening to promote the development and well-being of the child.
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