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The social construction of child neglect Marshall, Georgina A. 1993

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THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF CHILD NEGLECTbyGEORGINA ALLISON MARSHALLB.S.W., The University of British Columbia, 1987A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFMASTER OF SOCIAL WORKinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESSchool of Social WorkWE ACCEPT THIS THESIS AS CONFORMINGTO THE REQUIRED STANDARDTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAApril 1993©GEORGINA ALLISON MARSHALL, 1993In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature) Dewrtment of 5c.46z,z^.561-c-_/).0-i-k•The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaDate ^2d, /3DE-6 (2/88)iiABSTRACTUsing a feminist standpoint perspective, this qualitative study began witha review of child neglect theory and child welfare policy, incorporating ananalysis of the ideologies underpinning the constructs of motherhood and thefamily. This highlighted how children's welfare is inextricably bound to thewelfare of women, and how motherwork is not valued in the ruling relations ofpatriarchy. Next, drawing upon Dorothy Smith's methodology of examining theconceptual practices of the ruling apparatuses, data from eighteen case filesfrom the 1991 child neglect caseload of one B.C. Family and Child Serviceoffice were analyzed. The case families were predominantly headed by poor,single mothers, seven of whom were identified by the ministry as Native.Themes emerging from the analysis show that mothers' behaviors, consideredout of context, are used routinely as the indicators of neglect, and that mother-blaming in assessment and intervention is common. Examples of institutionalracism were found, and intervention was shown to function in many situationsas a policing strategy. Neither the effects of poverty, nor the violence by malefamily members were factored into the assessments of women's ability to carefor their children. The absence of the women's voices stood out in the data.The implications for social work praxis are discussed, in terms of reframing therelevance to practice of gender, 'race', class, and other determinants of socialinequality.iiiTABLE OF CONTENTSPageABSTRACT ^  iiTABLE OF CONTENTS ^  iiiLIST OF FIGURES  vACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ^  viDEDICATION ^  viiCHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION ^  1CHAPTER TWO: DEFINITION AND SCOPE OF CHILD NEGLECT ^ 17Definition ^  17Scope of Child Neglect ^  24CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY ^  30Conceptual Model ^  30The Ruling Apparatuses of Child Welfare ^  35Ministry Files as the Source of Text  36Procedures for Data Collection ^  37Analysis ^  39CHAPTER FOUR: PERSPECTIVES ON MOTHERHOOD AND THE FAMILY^44Motherhood in Pre-modern Family ^  47Motherhood in Modern Family  53CHAPTER FIVE: A CRITIQUE OF THEORIES OF CAUSATION OF CHILDNEGLECT ^  70Psychodynamic Theories of Causation ^  71Ecology Theory of Causation ^  77Feminist Theories of Causation  83Historical Perspective of Child Neglect ^  104B.C. Child Welfare Legislation ^  114Provisions of the Family and Child Service Act ^  116Policy Change ^  124CHAPTER SEVEN: UNRAVELLING THE TEXT ^  128Eighteen Case Studies ^  129ivTABLE OF CONTENTS(Continued)PageCHAPTER EIGHT: ANALYSIS ^  181Mothers' Behaviors as Indicators of Child Neglect ^ 181Mother-blaming in Assessment and Intervention  184Intervention as Policing Strategy ^  187Poverty as a Context of Child Neglect  189Institutional Racism in Child Welfare Practice ^  191Violence as a Feature of Control ^  193Objectified Knowledges in Child Neglect  194CHAPTER NINE: IMPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL WORK PRAXIS ^ 199BIBLIOGRAPHY ^  210LIST OF FIGURESPageFIGURE 2.1: DEFINITION OF CHILD IN NEED OF PROTECTION INCANADA ^  20FIGURE 2.2: MINISTRY OF SOCIAL SERVICES RISK ASSESSMENT ^ 22viACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThe development of this study was a learning experience which broughtto light for me the full meaning of feminist social work praxis. I struggled toidentify the ways in which I am racist and classist, and I laboured to understandhow I have been oppressed as a woman. Taking hold of, and unravelling theideological wrappings of capitalist patriarchy is accomplished through process.What is found in these pages reflects one point in the process.I am thankful to the members of my thesis committee, Richard Sullivan,Glenn Drover, Mary Russell, and Marlee Kline, for their contributions to mywork. I give special thanks to my advisor, Kathryn McCannell, who encouragedme and guided me and who helped me be true to myself in relation to otherwomen.I give thanks to my wonderful family and to my friends, who made mefeel very much loved, indeed.DEDICATIONI dedicate this work toBarbara May U'Rena woman who fought the child welfare system for her sonso that he could maintain family relations with her and hissister. Her love for her children, and her strengthtaught me a lot about motherwork.vii1CHAPTER ONEINTRODUCTIONTo understand the nature of child neglect one looks to the child welfareliterature, to the published works of practitioners who define what is and isn'tchild neglect, and to the research which provides evidence to build theories ofcausation. As well, child neglect is put in a temporal and social context todetermine its scope. Finally, in the attempt to understand how child neglect isdealt with by the professionals and authorities, an historical and contemporaryaccount is given of social welfare policy (Chambers, 1986). This is the usualand traditional approach. All of these factors of child neglect will be addressedin this study. However, the analysis will not stop there. To explain why theanalysis must go beyond the traditional approach, the work of Fiona Williams(1989) is offered as analogue.Williams (1989) begins her discourse on social policy by explaining whythe analysis of the welfare state must not stop at the analysis of the relation ofwelfare policies to the economic and social organization of production (that is,work). She explains:By situating an analysis of the welfare state not only in terms ofthe organizing principle of Work but in terms also of the adjacentand interconnected themes of Family and Nation we can be ledtowards a deeper understanding of the differential impact ofwelfare policies. (Introduction, xiv)From Fiona Williams' perspective, the inclusion of these three themes in policyanalysis is crucial. In a similar vein, the perspective held in this study is that to2get at a deeper understanding of the problem of child neglect and to understandthe relation of social policies to neglect, it is necessary to go beyond adescription of child neglect and the theories of causation posited by traditionalresearchers and practitioners.Child neglect cannot be singled out as a problem without also looking atthe social institution in which it exists: the family. Although there is noconsensus in theory about the development of the family, a theoreticalframework of the family is necessary if one is to situate this institution in asocial and historical context (Anderson, 1980; Laslett, 1972; Barrett andMcIntosh, 1982; Smith, 1985; Daily, 1982). And further to this, child neglectcannot be examined without also looking at the role of women in the family:"Since women are the primary nurturers of children in this society, the welfareof children is inextricably bound up with the welfare of women" (KottWashburne, 1983, p.290). The two themes of family and motherhood are thusseen in this thesis to be crucial to understanding the problem of child neglect.When child neglect is analyzed utilizing traditional methodology, children'sexperiences are well documented. In this study women's experiences will bethe focus, in particular, as mothers who are deemed neglectful by theauthorities.How I came to the decision to include in this study an exploration of thetwo themes of family and motherhood, and to focus the research on women'sexperiences, is bound up in my combined experiences as social worker,3advocate, woman, and mother. I am white, and grew up in a family that waspoor but aspired to a middle-class lifestyle. I married young and had children,as did most of my friends. No one in my family or circle of friends went touniversity, no one had a "career", we just had jobs. In my late twenties, Idiscovered feminist literature and this was a turning point, an awakening for mewhich led to work in a women's centre/transition house. My focus for someyears was on male violence against women and "family violence", and my workin this area led me to college, then university to graduate with a degree in socialwork. Although the focus of my social work practice had shifted to povertyand racism, my experiences as a woman and my feminist perspective meantthat I would always analyze social "issues" as they effect women. It wasduring my employment as a community worker in a very poor area ofVancouver, B.C., that I found myself coming to the aid of more and morewomen who were seeking help in getting their children back from the childwelfare system. Child welfare is administered in B.C. by the Ministry of SocialServices. Since at the time I was one of less than a dozen paid advocates inthe city and since I was one of the few advocates who did advocacy in the areaof Family and Child Services (the title of the child protection Act), thesemothers had few options in getting the support and help they were after.Although the legal aid system ensured them legal representation in theircustody fights, many lawyers are not versed in child protection legislation andcertainly most lawyers see their role as one of legal advisor, not social worker.4It was my experience as a community worker to have women say that theydidn't think their lawyers understood their grief and how grateful they were thatI seemed to "care".As I worked with these women -- one woman in particular over a three-year period -- I became aware of the powerlessness of mothers in the face of abureaucratic child welfare system and court system that function more to blamemothers than help families deal with the problems that bring them before theauthorities in the first place. Having been employed for a short time as a socialworker in the B.C. child protection system, I had a working knowledge of thebureaucracy and also the personal experience of meeting child protectionworkers and district supervisors (the administrators of local Family and ChildServices offices) who wanted to help families, not blame mothers. I wastherefore able to help myself and my clients keep our experiences with the childprotection system in perspective by recalling the positive experiences I andother families had in the past with child welfare services. However much wethought the system worked against parents, we had to remember that therewere individual social workers who would listen and understand the plight ofmothers.The women I worked with were all predominantly poor, single parentsand many had a history of physical and/or sexual abuse as children. A fewmothers were First Nations people who also had to deal with the cultural lag orignorance in the child welfare system.5These women had difficulty coping with life in the poor lane, never mindcoping with powerful government agents. Poverty was a dominant issue inadvocacy. If mothers weren't coming for advocacy in child apprehension, theywere asking for advocacy in income assistance, the income they received fromthe other arm of the Ministry of Social Services. These women and theirchildren had to seek charity and advocacy to get enough to eat each month.The government welfare rates, falling well below the poverty line, legislatedthese families to the food banks.One of the major considerations in responding as an advocate and takingon the cases was my anger at the apparent injustice in the child protectionsystem. It was hard to hear over and over again the emotional pain in thevoices of the women coming to me for help when one or all of their childrenhad been apprehended. I had to ask myself, if these women had placed theirchildren at risk and so had to have them removed from the family home, whywere they putting so much energy into trying to get them back? One mother Iworked with spent years battling the system to get her son back. Theincongruence of their emotions, words, and actions with the protective actionsof child welfare authorities perplexed me. As a professional I had to keeptaking a "reality check": was my anger because of reaction formation,transference and counter transference, or just simply because as a mothermyself I felt outrage that apparently caring mothers had their children takenaway?6I want to state clearly that I did not view these custody cases as"either/or" events: either these mothers neglected their children and ought notto challenge the child apprehensions or these mothers didn't neglect theirchildren and are wrongly accused. I did understand that people who neglect orabuse can at the same time fight to maintain their ties with the "victim"; thatthe act of fighting for access to someone may be an expression of powerstruggles and personal self-interest. As a worker in a transition house for fiveyears I saw ample evidence of this in the case of men who assaulted womenand then went to great lengths to get their female partners to return to thefamily home, only to assault them further. What perplexed me in the cases ofthe women I worked with was that whatever their ego needs were in relation tohaving control over their children, the obstacles faced by these women weremuch greater. These mothers were predominantly single, all living in poverty,and they lacked the practical skills and knowledge of bureaucracy that isrequired in mediation.Upon ending my employment as community worker and re-entering theeducational system as graduate student, I wanted to explore further thequestions I had about the child welfare system. I was particularly keen toexplore the concept of child neglect because the expression of it was not clearto me given my experience as a worker in the child protection system and as anadvocate with the mothers: there seemed to be no general consensus on whatis determined to be "child neglect".7The research undertaken in this study utilized an exploratory approach tochild neglect. An initial literature search uncovered little that was useful to thepurposes of this paper. Much of what is written about child neglect is"currently limited to a small area of study which is characterized as theobservable phenomenon of neglect" (Swift, 1988, p. 64). One question ofinterest was, if knowledge about child neglect is located in observablephenomenon, then who is doing the observing and what is being said about thisphenomenon? A second question being asked in this study concerns women'sexperiences. What is being said about child neglect from the perspectives ofwomen?Drawing upon the methodology of Dorothy Smith (1990) this studyexamines the social construction of child neglect. In Texts, Facts and Femininity. Exploring the Relations of Ruling, Smith (1990) has conjoined twolines of inquiry:... first, into what it means to explore the social from the site ofwomen's experience and beginning therefore with an experiencingand embodied subject, and second, into the social organization ofthe objectified knowledges that are essential constituents of therelations of ruling of contemporary capitalism (p. 1).Smith is saying that in the first line of inquiry the process of understanding lifeevents is accomplished through women's accounts of how they experiencethem. In her second line of inquiry, she is speaking of the ways in which lifeevents are understood (social organization) based on knowledge gained throughbureaucratic processes whereby women have their experiences stripped of the8subjective and made a separate objective category (objectified knowledges).Smith is also saying that understanding the world from this particularperspective is essential in maintaining power (relations of ruling).In her lines of inquiry Smith (1990) names the institutions that organize,regulate, lead, and direct contemporary capitalist societies as "rulingapparatuses". These are the institutions of administration, professionalauthority, management, and intellectual and cultural discourses. Discourse, it isnoted, is considered by Smith to be part of the ruling apparatuses, and is thepoint of entry in this study of child neglect. Smith (1990) explains that therelations of ruling are mediated by discourse: "The power relations which comethus into view from the standpoint of an experience situated in the everydayworld are abstracted from local particular settings and relationships. Theseforms of communication and action are distinctively mediated by texts" (p. 2).From this it seemed reasonable to research the communications of the rulingapparatuses of the child welfare system from a local setting to learn what isbeing said textually about child neglect. That is, to conduct research using thewritten data from B.C. child protection files.There were two objectives in this study. One was to analyze the textualmediation of child neglect, the discussion of which has been introduced above,and the other was to explore child neglect in relation to the experiences ofwomen, as analyzed by women. This was accomplished by bringing into the9discussion writings of women that are not ordinarily factored into the analysisof child neglect.In her writings, Smith (1985; 1990) speaks of "experiences situated inthe everyday world" and in relation to women she means that which is themundane day to day activities of women and children. To get at theseexperiences, Smith begins with "an experiencing and embodied subject".Strangely enough, it was not the objective of this study to begin withinterviewing women. I firmly believe women must have a voice, and that tounderstand the experiences of women, researchers have to make it possible forwomen to speak for themselves. Yet, I chose not to do this. I think it stemsfrom the frustration I experienced as an advocate with the inherent mother-blaming of the child welfare system -- I was driven to explore the ideologicalunderpinnings that inform child welfare practice. I thought that an analysis ofthe relations of power would establish a foundation of understanding. Andfollowing that articulation, I could then participate in research that would givevoice to women. Women, who by virtue of these very relations of power, arerarely heard. So it is in this way that I consider this particular study to be ajumping off point. And to facilitate an understanding of the ideologiesunderpinning the child welfare system, this study looks to the writings ofwomen: women writing about women's experiences with the rulingapparatuses in general, and more specifically with relations of ruling in the child10welfare system. The experiences are explored from a woman-centred position,that is by using feminist theoretical frameworks.It is argued here that to get at an understanding of women's experiencesin the everyday world in relation to the ideologies informing the rulingapparatuses one can, indeed, draw upon feminist scholarship as a valid andreliable source. There is a difference between traditional ("malestream")discourse and feminist discourse. Dorothy Smith (1985) has noted that "[t]heordinary ways of our thinking and research begin in the intellectual world, withquestions arising out of debates among social scientists, intellectuals,administrators, etc. We begin ordinarily outside experience and in thediscourse" (p. 4). Feminist literature is in the discourse but it is also plainlyinside experience. Smith said in a talk in Vancouver that feminist intellectuallife and work is not severed with women the way that traditional men'sacademia is:In the past, knowledge has denied that its knowers are embodied,has denied therefore its bodily ground, has denied therefore thecommunity -- and variety -- of its human existence, and deniedtherefore how knowledge is connected up with the actualities ofpeople's living. The women's movement and women's intellectualwork has refused to be bounded by the walls of academe; ...When we speak in our disciplines as women, we bring into themthis connectedness with a life beyond the text (1991, p. 15).This connectedness is a distinctive character of women's studies becausewomen, as the recipients of gender bias in traditional disciplinary studies, havechallenged the assumptions of gender and power underlying social relations andscientific theorizing.11In developing feminist analyses, women critique the methodologiescreated by men which are said to protect inquiries from motivation, beliefs, anddesires but which "contains precisely what it rejects: the vivid traces of areflected self image" (Keller, 1985, p. 70). Evelyn Fox Keller (1985), amathematician and author on the subject of gender and science, explores the"culturally pervasive association between objectivity and masculinity" (p. 71).Keller argues that because of the polarization of masculine and feminine in oursociety, objectivity is construed as objectivism which is a masculine goal;whereas subjectivity is interpreted as subjectivism, deemed a feminineprerogative. She defines objectivity as "the pursuit of a maximally authentic,and hence maximally reliable, understanding of the world around oneself" (p.116) and she distinguishes between a dynamic objectivity and a staticobjectivity:Dynamic objectivity aims at a form of knowledge that grants to theworld around us its independent integrity but does so in a way thatremains cognizant of, indeed relies on, our connectivity with thatworld. In this, dynamic objectivity is not unlike empathy ... .Bycontrast, I call static objectivity the pursuit of knowledge thatbegins with the severance of subject from object rather thanaiming at the disentanglement of one from the other. (p. 117)Dynamic objectivity in its connectedness makes use of subjective experience.How we remain connected or how we are severed with where we are located isrooted in the emotional substructure. Dorothy Smith went on to say in her talkthat the "sex-body" is the basis upon which we are informed of that around us,and that this gender sub-text to academia and institutions has never been12recognized in men's university. Keller quotes Schachtel (1959) in his discussionof the modern scientist:The scientist ... looks at the object with one or more hypothesesand with the purpose of his research in mind, and thus "uses" theobject to corroborate or disprove a hypothesis, but does notencounter the object as such, in its own fullness. Also, modernnatural science has as its main goal prediction, i.e. the power tomanipulate objects in such a way that only those aspects of theobject are deemed relevant which make it suitable for suchmanipulation or control ... Thus it becomes an object-in-use.. .(p.120)In her discussion, "Feminism, Science, and the Anti-Enlighteniment Critiques",Sandra Harding (1990) notes that feminist epistemologies, although varied inresponse, struggle "on behalf of eliminating the subordination of women in allof its race, class, and cultural forms" (p. 90). Harding explains that feministempiricists believe sexist and androcentric biases in social science research "canbe eliminated by stricter adherence to the existing methodological norms ofscientific inquiry" (p. 91). For feminist standpoint theorists, of which DorothySmith is one, "a 'line of fault' opens up between their experiences and thedominant conceptual schemes" (p. 95). Harding explains that for both of thesetwo justificatory strategies, knowledge must be grounded in experience. Citingmany studies, Harding goes on to say thatwhat has counted as knowledge in modern, Western cultureoriginates in and is tested against only a certain limited anddistorted kind of social experience. The experiences arising fromthe activities assigned to women, understood through feministtheory, provide a starting point for developing potentially morecomplete and less distorted knowledge claims than do men'sexperience. (p. 95)13This study, then, arises from a feminist questioning of the traditional startingpoints in the study of child neglect. As well as drawing upon the works ofDorothy Smith, this study utilizes methodology from the research of GillianWalker (1990) and Roxanna Ng (1988). Walker studied wife-battering andfollowed the processes of its formulation as an issue, its operation in thewomen's movement, and as purview of the state. In examining the relations ofruling and the women's movement, Walker examined "documentary, discursive,and conceptual procedures" (p. 1). This study also uses these practices indrawing out the social construction of child neglect. Roxanna Ng (1988), in herinvestigation of how immigrant women were organized into the labour market,developed an analysis of the social construction of immigrant women as well asan analysis of the internal transformation of an agency serving this populationof women.By putting forward feminist analyses, and feminist critiques of traditionalanalyses of child neglect, we will learn how it is that the traditional childwelfare response system, in its "social organization of objectified knowledges",misses the crux of the issue and sets up women and children as victims.If the victimization of women is ignored in traditional approaches to childneglect, the victimization of children is not, and it is emotionally charged.When someone thinks of child neglect, often an image of a waif with tatteredclothes comes to mind, a child who is dirty and probably hungry. But that isnot the only image. There is culpability attached to the vision, and somewhere14the mind looks for the responsible party, usually the errant mother whom weexpect to cuff that vulnerable child. One may ask, why shouldn't a neglectfulmother be held responsible if she is unwilling or unable to provide care?The very phrase, "unwilling or unable to provide care" acts as anintroduction to the causation of child neglect. In discussing the role of thestate in the raising of children, Nicholas Bala (1991) cites the National Councilon Welfare (1979) in its analysis of child welfare:On the face of it, of course, parental inability is the reasonunderlying any decision to place a child in care.. .what is forgotten,however, is that the term 'unable or unwilling to provide care' isnothing more than a convenient administrative label lumpingtogether a wide variety of family problems, many of which stemfrom inadequate income, unemployment and other factors thatcannot fairly be blamed on their victims. (p. 15)Such contextual issues as poverty and unemployment are examined in thisstudy, as well as racial issues and gender relations. The examination begins inChapter two, which explores the definition and scope of child neglect.Following the second chapter, I take the reader through the methodology of myresearch. And from there I turn next to what is commonly called a literaturereview: chapters dealing with motherhood and the family, theories of causationof child neglect, and the child welfare policy that frames child protection here inB.C.The discourse on feminist theory and the presentation of the history ofthe family and perspectives on motherhood explore how it is that we continuein a vein of mother-blaming. These chapters reveal the ideologies underpinning15our traditions and social relations. Understanding our traditions and socialrelations from an analysis of ideology allows us to better grasp the processes athand in traditional responses to child neglect. As Walker (1990) notes:...we are not ruled on a day-to-day basis by terror but byideological procedures -- ways of thinking, understanding, andacting -- that enlists us in our own ordering. Ideologicalprocedures.. .form part of the work of a ruling apparatus comprisinga complex of relations ... (p. 8).How women conceive the image of motherhood, what we understand about it,and how we live it is not a natural, biological process such as changing from agirl to a woman. It arises from ideological procedures. The set of perceptionswe call motherhood is learned through the ideological procedure of socialization,the transmission of cultural values, norms, and beliefs. Inherent in anysocialization procedure is a maintenance of power relations. In a discourse onpower and knowledge, White and Epston (1990) cite the works of Foucault(1979). They state:Foucault also detailed the technology that became available torecruit persons into an active role in their own subjugation. Whenconditions are established for persons to experience ongoingevaluation according to particular institutionalized "norms", whenthese conditions cannot be escaped, and when persons can beisolated in their experience of such conditions, then they willbecome the guardians of themselves. (p. 24)The ideological procedures whereby women are socialized to raise their childrenaccording to the ruling ideas of the time are presented in the discussions on thefamily, motherhood, and child neglect.1 6Chapter five looks at the causation of child neglect as put forward by theruling apparatuses and provides a feminist critique which challenges thedominant theme of mother-blaming, showing how intervention targeted at theindividual level both perpetuates the myths of motherhood and the oppressionof women and children.In Chapter six, I try to show that the ideologies which guide us in ourconstruction of family and motherhood are the same as those that inform childwelfare policy. Chapter six gives an historical and materialist account of thedevelopment of current policy and a critique of the deficits of its framework.From the vantage point of this contextual understanding of child neglect,the reader is then taken into the presentation of the eighteen case studies(Chapter seven) and the data analysis (Chapter eight). Using an adaptation ofgrounded theory analysis, I examine the data to determine what is beingcommunicated about child neglect and whether the findings align with whatfeminist theorists are positing.The final chapter examines the implications for social work practice thatcome from the analysis of the data, and gives the perspective of analysts andfeminist social workers who are themselves caught in the relations of ruling.To begin this journey of discourse and analysis, the definition and scopeof child neglect will be discussed.17CHAPTER TWODEFINITION AND SCOPE OF CHILD NEGLECTDefinition In an attempt to define child neglect, writers and practitioners often citePolansky (1981). He defines neglect using descriptive behaviors of the adultresponsible for the neglect. According to Polansky, child neglect has occurredif a responsible caretaker permits the child to experience avoidable presentsuffering and/or fails to provide essential ingredients for physical, intellectual,and emotional development (Polansky et al., 1981, cited in Sevcik, 1984, p. 4).This definition is broad and it is not clear what "essential ingredients" mean,and it characterizes the vagueness found in the literature. Garbarino andStocking (1980) do not attempt to define child neglect in their discussion of thesocial context of child maltreatment. In an earlier text on neglect, Polansky,DeSaix and Sharlin (1973) say "To a large extent, neglect is in the eye of thebeholder" (p. 4). Marylou Kaufman (1983), in recounting the difficulties ofdefining maltreatment, points out that identification of abuse and neglect iscomplicated by "a wide continuum of acceptable child rearing practices" (p.16).In a Canadian Children's Aid Society manual on fundamentals of childprotection, Falconer and Swift (1983) state that "there is no social or legalagreement on precise factors which may be said to constitute neglect" (p. 49).The explication of Canadian child welfare law by Barnhorst and Walker (1991)18shows the many differences in legal definitions of neglect. They say that mostprovincial law has wording that is vague, and lacks consistency because of itsdiscretionary nature in the interpretation. What Barnhorst and Walker term the"family autonomy" approach is considered better because its language is moreprecise. Figure 2.1 delineates some of the differences between the two leadingapproaches.In their introduction to theorizations of the etiologies of child abuse andneglect Tzeng, Jackson, and Karlson (1991) note that in the United Statesthere is a federal government definition; it is one that speaks of "maltreatment".And then each state has its own working definitions and guidelines. Theseauthors say that because terminology for both child abuse and neglect iscomplex and ambiguous "inability to agree on definitions leads to problems incross-sudy analyses, in cross-state comparisons, and in the integration ofempirical findings with theoretical considerations" (p. 7).One approach to defining child neglect utilized by Giovannoni (1985) is todiscuss the various sources: societal, institutional, and familial. These sourceswill be part of this analysis in Chapter four which deals with theories ofcausation of child neglect. Giovannoni focuses on the familial sources but evenso a clear definition does not arise: "Lack of agreement about parental roles,including both rights and obligations, impede the establishment of cleardefinitions of ... neglect" (p. 199).19FIGURE 2.1:^ DEFINITION OFCHILD IN NEED OF PROTECTION IN CANADATaken from: Dick Barnhorst and Bernd Walker (1991). Child ProtectionLegislation In Canada. In N. Bala, J. Hornick, and R. Vogl (Eds.), Canadian ChildWelfare Law. Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, Inc.^1.^INTERVENTIONIST APPROACH (broad and vague language)All Canadian statutes EXCEPT Alberta and OntarioRepresentative sample: New Brunswick Family Service ActIn addition to such situations as physical or sexual abuse and failure toprovide needed medical treatment, the definition includes the followingsituations:(a) the child is without adequate care, supervision or control;(b) the child is living in unfit or improper circumstances;(c)^the child is in the care of a person who is unable or unwilling toprovide adequate care, supervision or control of the child;(h) the child is beyond the control of the person caring for him;(i) the child by his behaviour, condition, environment or association islikely to injure himself or others2.^FAMILY AUTONOMY APPROACH (precise and objective language)ALBERTA AND ONTARIO statutesRepresentative sample: Ontario Child and Family Services Act(a) the child has suffered physical harm, inflicted by the person having chargeof the child or caused by that person's failure to care and provide for orsupervise and protect the child adequately;(b) there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer physical harm inflicted orcaused as described in clause (a)(c) the child has been sexually molested or sexually exploited, by the personhaving charge of the child or by another person where the person having chargeof the child knows or should know of the possibility of sexual molestation orsexual exploitation and fails to protect the child;^ continued20FIGURE 2.1:^ DEFINITION OFCHILD IN NEED OF PROTECTION IN CANADA2. FAMILY AUTONOMY APPOACH (precise and objective language)Ontario Child and Family Services Act (continued)(d) there is a substantial risk that the child will be sexually molested or sexuallyexploited as described in clause (c)(e) the child requires medical treatment to cure, prevent or alleviate physicalharm or suffering and the child's parent or the person having charge of the childdoes not provide, or refuses or is unavailable or unable to consent to, thetreatment;(f) the child has suffered emotional harm, demonstrated by severe(i) anxiety,(ii) depression,(iii) withdrawal, or(iv) self-destructive or aggressive behaviourand the child's parent or the person having charge of the child does notprovide, or refuses or is unavailable or unable to consent to, services ortreatment to remedy or alleviate the harm;(g) there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer emotional harm of thekind described in clause (f), and the child's parent or the person having chargeof the child does not provide, or refuses or is unavailable or unable to consentto, services or treament to prevent the harm;(h) the child suffers from a mental, emotional or developmental condition that, ifnot remedied, could seriously impair the child's development and the child'sparent or the person having charge of the child does not provide, or refuses oris unavailable or unable to consent to, treatment to remedy or alleviate thecondition;(i) the child has been abandoned, the child's parent has died or is unavailable toexercise his or her custodial rights over the child and has not made adequateprovision for the child's care and custody...21If definitions of child neglect are ambiguous, how is neglect assessedonce a child protection worker is aware of an allegation? The literature pointsto clinical judgment and risk assessment. But risk assessment methodologiesare undergoing critical examination as more child welfare agencies adoptstrategies to better predict and prevent maltreatment (Wald and Woolverton,1990). In B.C. the child protection social workers are directed by policy tocomplete a risk assessment for each investigation of abuse or neglect utilizingthe same guide which lists ten areas of concern. The risk assessment form ispresented in Figure 2.2. There is no scale for measurement of risk and theguide relies solely on the worker's judgment. This procedure was only broughtinto play this past year and may not be followed in every district office. TheB.C. Ministry of Social Services, which is the government agency charged withchild protection, include abandonment, absence of parent and disability ofparent in their definition of neglect. The meanings of these concepts are notclear, even when they are interpreted in policy. For example, a districtsupervisor explained that the interpretation of the phrase, "Deprived ofnecessary care by reason of the Disability of Parents", is interpreted in ministrypolicy as:The child's mental illness which creates a profound and real,adverse and apparently dangerous reaction on the part of the childto her parents creates a disability on the part of the parents.22FIGURE 2.2: MINISTRY OF SOCIAL SERVICES RISK ASSESSMENTSECTION: Protective Family Services^6.4.14HEADING: Investigating Complaints of Child ProtectionGuidelines:The social worker will assess all the information obtained during the course ofthe Investigation to complete a risk assessment. The risk assessment is basedupon a thorough review of the characteristics of the reported and past abuse orneglect, the child and family involved, and the environment in which the childand family exist.The social worker will use the risk assessment to determine whether or not thechild(ren) under Investigation are safe or are likley to be harmed by abuse orneglect in the immediate future. An assessment of the severity of the currentabuse and neglect incident will also be considered in the risk assessment.The social worker will review all of the following aras to complete the riskassessment.^1.^Severity of the Abuse or Neglect- Impact of the injury on the child and the severity of the injury ordamage to the child^2.^The Frequency, Recency and Past History of the Abuse or Neglect^3.^Vulnerability of the Childage, physical or mental handicapschild's behavior and interactions with parents, siblings, peers orothers- child's position and role in the family4.^Impact of Parental Behavior on Child- a description of the parents behaviors including:a) physical, mental or emotional abilitiesb) mental healthC) substance abused) parenting skills and knowledgee) parent's perception of child and his/her needsf) criminal record(s) involving violenceg) cultural and religious practices ^ continued23FIGURE 2.2: MINISTRY OF SOCIAL SERVICES RISK ASSESSMENTGuidelines (continued)5. Location and Access of the Perpetrator to the Child6. Parental Willingness to Protect the Child- parent(s) willingness to cooperate, access services and participatein activities to lessen problems and reduce risk to the child7.^Parental Ability to Protect the Child- specific areas which limit the capacity of the parent to protect thechild8. Environmental Conditions of the Home and Familysituational and ongoing conditionsmobility and social and/or geographical isolation9. Existence of Family and Community Support Systemnature of parent/child relationship- functioning of family members and their relationship withfamily and other community support systemsextended10.^Reliability of Information from Reporter and Co!laterals- an evaluation of the information provided by the reporter andcollateralsThe social worker will complete a written summary of the risk assessment foreach child in his/her present environment.A detailed risk assessment must be completed at least once during theInvestigation. The risk assessment provides the framework to manage thefactors and variables indicative of abuse and neglect each time the socialworker obtains new information during the Investigation process.Where the social worker determines that the Investigation lacks sufficientinformation to fully complete a risk assessment or there is specific informationthat is not considered in the risk assessment that appears to place the child atrisk, the social worker must consult with his/her District Supervisor to completethe risk assessment for the subject child(ren) under Investigation.24The social worker is cautioned to understand that normal discord in a familydoesn't mean a disability but even this interpretation does not clarify whatdisability actually means.Wald and Woolverton (1990) stress that risk assessment procedures areappropriately used in making decisions whether to intervene but not todetermine whether the parent will reinjure Further, predictions based oncertain instruments are suspect if the same instrument is used in cases ofphysical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect (Wald and Woolverton, 1990).Based on these researchers' work it would appear that the assessment toolutilized in B.C. child protection is neither valid nor reliable.Theorists who employ an ecological approach argue that defining andassessing child neglect without taking into account the social contexts in whichindividuals live perpetuates the attribution of pathology to the parent (which invirtually all neglect cases is the mother). Feminist theorists argue that whenneglect is examined from the site of women's experiences, the evidence showsthat it is the flawed foundations of our relationships in families whichcontributes to maltreatment. The arguments of the ecology and feministtheorists are discussed in Chapter five.Scope of Child NeglectThe B.C. Ministry of Social Services has only quantitative data submittedby district offices with which to assess the scope of child neglect. Discussionswith social workers employed in child protection reveal that workers do not25have much knowledge of ministry caseloads. They have a sense of howcolleagues in proximity assess child neglect and they know about the types ofinterventions generally available to their particular offices. But by and largedescriptive data about what is actually happening in the province regarding childneglect is not available.The quantitative data show that in B.C. during 1990-91 there were31,429 investigations of possible abuse or neglect. As a result of theseinvestigations over 14,000 new or revised plans for family support wereinitiated (B.C. Ministry of Social Services, 1992a). For the same period, 3,103children were apprehended. Of these, sixty-two percent (approximately 1,900children) were apprehended for reasons of neglect; and of these, fifty-threepercent of their families were headed by single parents (B.C. Ministry of SocialServices, 1991).The groups of people most at risk of child neglect are those living inpoverty, particularly those living on welfare: welfare rates in B.C. can be asmuch as fifty percent below the poverty line (End Legislated Poverty, 1991). Inhis earlier work, Polansky (1973) acknowledges the impact that poverty has onfamilies when he states "... there is no question that adjudicated child neglect ismuch, much more prevalent among the poor" (p. 8). Research conducted usingrecent B.C. Ministry of Social Services data offers further evidence that familiesliving on welfare are overrepresented in child protection cases and that theadmission rates of children into care for reasons of neglect are significantly26higher for families on welfare than for employed families (Campbell, 1991).These findings also show that children apprehended on evidence of neglect arepredominantly placed in the care of the parent rather than a care resource orfoster home. Campbell questioned what conditions changed sufficiently topermit children to remain at home, yet remain at risk enough to requireapprehension (Campbell, 1991, p. 158).Women bear the brunt of allegations of child neglect because they areseen to be the primary care providers for their children even when a father ispresent (see, for example, Swift, 1988; Polansky, DeSaix and Sharlin, 1973;Fowler and Stockford, 1979; Schur, 1983). There are about 32,000 singlemothers currently on welfare in B.C. Most of them will not come before theauthorities as neglectful mothers but for those who do, it is their experiences asan oppressed "minority" which will be ignored in the child protection process(DaIley, 1986; Swift, 1991). Fiona Williams (1989) is one of the few policyanalysts who addresses the absence or marginalization of 'race' and gender insocial policy. [Note: I follow the practice of Fiona Williams in her use ofquotation marks with the word race to denote one does not mean a separaterace of people, rather the conditions arising from racism and imperialism]. Inrelation to women, Williams states that there has been a failure to acknowledgeexperiences and struggles of women and a failure to account for sexism in theprovision of state welfare.27First Nations families, whether or not poor, are doubly at risk of beingassessed as neglectful. McKenzie and Hudson (1985) report that a 1980-81review of data from B.C. indicated that "status Indian children were eight timesas likely as non-Indian children to be in some form of substitute care" (p. 126).Over the past two decades First Nations people in Canada have been active inreclaiming their lives from the consequences of colonialism, including the moveto govern their own child welfare systems (Sinclair, Phillips and Bala, 1991).Although the mainstream child welfare system has recognized aboriginalissues and has responded positively towards First Nations involvement inreorganizing Native child welfare, institutional racism continues to characterizelegislation (see, for example, Monture, 1989 and Kline, 1992).This is not to say that 'race' can be separated from class and gender,because the experiences of First Nations women, Black women, and whitewomen have differing antecedents, contexts, and outcomes, even though allare women. And within groups of women, whether First Nations women orwhite women or other women of Colour, there are vast differences that have tobe acknowledged if we are to get at the realities of their experiences with childwelfare. I make this point because, as a white woman, I have a propensity tocommit the error of generalizing the experiences of women. I mistakenly takemy experiences and the experiences of many other white (usually middle-class)women as the basis for analysis of gender relations, and in the process28completely devalue the lives of women who are not white (whether or notmiddle-class). How very different my analysis would be were I to be a FirstNations woman or a Black woman from Nova Scotia. Marlee Kline (1989)speaks of three interrelated tendencies in contemporary white feministscholarship:(1) the tendency to overlap racial identity when considering theimpact of an issue on women;(2) the tendency to define issues in ways that more significantlyaddress the experiences of white women; and(3)^the tendency to over-simplify the sites of women'soppressionMarlee Kline notes in her critique of racism within feminist discourse, thatif one considers the dominant ideology of child-care practices and not just theideology of (white) motherhood, one becomes less specifically gender-orientedand "more concerned with the conflict between dominant and subordinatecultures" (p. 132). The literature talks about the fact that Native cultural normsin childcare differ from, and can be deemed inadequate to mainstream notionsof child rearing (Sinclair, Phillips and Bala, 1991). What isn't necessarily madeclear without both a 'race' and gender connection, and what Kline points out,is that not only may First Nations children be taken into care because they areraised by extended family members as opposed to their mothers, but that "theexpectations of the dominant ideology regarding child care practice might alsohelp to explain why First Nations families have generally been considered unfitfor fostering or adoption (p. 133) (emphasis added).29Whether, and to what extent 'race', class, and gender relations are dealtwith in cases of child neglect in B.C. will be explored in the analysis of thedata. This study examined the text of eighteen case files of the Ministry ofSocial Services. The conceptual model of methodology used in this researchand an outline of the ruling apparatuses governing child welfare are presentednext.30CHAPTER THREEMETHODOLOGYConceptual ModelThe research undertaken in this qualitative study utilized an exploratoryapproach to child neglect. Karen Swift (1988), in her review of the literature onchild neglect, stated that child neglect is "currently limited to a small area ofstudy which is characterized as the observable phenomenon of neglect" (p. 64).A review of the literature in this study confirmed that a tangible definition and areliable and valid means of assessment are not conceptual practices agreedupon in the field of child protection. If, as Swift states, knowledge about childneglect is located in observable phenomenon, then a question in this study was:who is doing the observing and what is being said about this phenomenon?The examination of child neglect as observable phenomenon in this studytakes the course of an analysis of child protection file recordings located in adistrict office of the B.C. Ministry of Social Services. The type of analysisutilized explores the social construction of child neglect as developed incommunication and action in a district office. Chapter one of this studyintroduced Dorothy Smith's (1990) discourse on the ruling apparatuses such asadministration, professional authority, and management. These are theinstitutions that organize, regulate, lead, and direct contemporary capitalistsocieties. Crucial to the understanding of the power relations of society is thenotion of discourse as a ruling apparatus. How experiences situated in the31everyday world are abstracted and communicated is a process that maintainspower relations. The strategy of analyzing the text of child protection fileswas chosen in the attempt to understand how child neglect is conceptualizedby the authorities and how the social construction of child neglect mediates therelations of ruling.The methodology used in this study is drawn from the traditions ofcontent analysis and institutional ethnography and is characterized by propertiesof the sociological inquiries adapted from Marx's method of political economy.Content analysis is defined as the examination of a class of social artifacts suchas written records and it has as a component the analysis of latent content orunderlying meanings (Babbie, 1989). Shulamit Reinharz (1992) classifies thetype of research carried out by Dorothy Smith as content analysis. Reinharz(1992) says that in using unobtrusive measures (written records), feministresearchers look at texts for how they mediate experience:Contemporary feminist scholars of cultural texts are likely to seemeaning as mediated, and therefore to examine both the text andthe processes of its production. (p. 145)I think that the determination of mediated texts takes content analysis a stepfurther and, in doing so, draws upon conceptual procedures of institutionalethnography. Institutional ethnography "seeks to locate the dynamics of a localsetting in the complex institutional relations organizing the local dynamics" (Ng,1988). The dynamics spoken of are integral to textual analysis because theyare part of the ruling apparatuses.32Although others have begun the deconstructive analysis of research onthe family utilizing many feminist methodologies (see, for example, Baines,1991; Barrett and McIntosh, 1991; Swift, 1991; Gordon, 1988; McCannell andHerringer, 1990), definitive studies in child neglect which could guide thisresearch design were not found. For this reason, and because this study arisesfrom a feminist questioning of the traditional starting points in the examinationof child neglect, I have drawn upon the works of feminist researchers that Ithink are similar in approach. An example is the book, Family Violence and the Women's Movement by Gillian Walker (1990). Walker examines the relationsof ruling and the women's movement in respect to the conceptual developmentof wife-battering. Walker's study is a type of institutional ethnography and herresearch incorporates an analysis of documents which illuminates how wife-battering is a textually mediated discourse. As Kathryn McCannell (1992)explains, "Walker's work illustrates how 'family violence' as a conceptorganizes both a phenomenon and a course of action. As an ideologicalconstruction which sets in motion a whole process of research, academic andbureaucratic discourse, the concept of 'family violence' serves to contain theclaims made" (p. 1). When the "male violence" framework used by women'sgroups and the "family violence" framework were melded, the emphasis wasput on "violence". McCannell notes that the "ultimate focus therefore becameone of assault, individual rights, and laws. This location of the issue in theiudicial system meant that a wider analysis of women's oppression in broader33structures became secondary, and the stage was set for alleviating the situationof individual women and dealing with the violence of individual men" (pp. 2-3).The reason I cite this research is that the problem of child neglect is alsolocated in the judicial system as a result of similar conceptual procedures, withthe focus in child protection on risk assessments, interventions, andinterpretations of law. Child neglect is seen in the narrow context of mother-child relations and is commonly thought to be a breakdown in a mother's abilityto care for her child due to her pathology. Such contextual issues as poverty,violence by male family members, and institutional racism are made invisiblewithin this narrow framework of child protection law and practice.The sociological research of Dorothy Smith (1990) described in TextsFacts, and Femininity mirrored most closely what I was attempting in myanalysis of ministry child protection files. Smith (1990) says that the text "isanalyzed for its characteristically textual form of participation in social relations"(p. 4). Smith's work with this methodology encompassed the analysis of theconstruction of mental illness using field interviews as data; the socialorganization of subjectivity using as data the transcript of a meeting at auniversity; and a study of how femininity is a textually mediated discourse inwhich texts on cultural norms of femininity from various sources were analyzed.It is this last study in particular that has influenced the analysis developed inthis study on child neglect. Smith (1990) states thatTextually mediated discourse is a distinctive feature ofcontemporary society existing as socially communicative and34interpretive practices intersecting with and structuring people'severyday worlds and contributing thereby to the organization ofthe social relations of the economy and of the political process.The discussion of the literature on child neglect and the feminist theorypresented in this study show how the mother is the target of intervention. Thebureaucratic processes whereby women, as the focal point in child neglect,have their experiences stripped of the subjective and made "objectifiedknowledges" is the point of entry of analysis. In the field of child welfare, theruling apparatus governing the bureaucratic processes is the Ministry of SocialServices, a department of the provincial government. The everydayexperiences of women with the ruling apparatus -- as mothers alleged to beneglectful or as mothers otherwise brought to the attention of the authorities --takes place at the local setting of district offices. The communications ofbureaucratic processes in which the experiences of women are objectified aremediated by text. In other words, the text in child protection files is adiscourse about womens' behaviors that fits the dominant ideology of whatmothers should be and should do. It is important to note that the text found inministry files acts as the sole source of information about a family. The text isformulated by child protection social workers and authorized by the localadministrator based on conceptual procedures put forward by the rulingapparatuses.35The Ruling Apparatuses of Child WelfareThe term child welfare in B.C. is narrowly defined as child protection; itdoes not mean the general welfare or well being of all children. Issues of childprotection fall under the authority of the Ministry of Social Services, an arm ofthe provincial government. The legislation which governs child welfare is theB.C. Family and Child Service Act, assented to in 1980.District offices are the local sites of the Ministry of Social Services and itis from these offices that child protection social workers carry out theirresponsibilities, workers who are delegated the "power, duty and function" bythe Superintendent of Family and Child Services to respond to child protectionconcerns.Each district office has a "catchment area" which is geographicallydetermined. People living in this catchment area and who are alleged to haveput a child at risk of abuse or neglect (as outlined above) are investigated by asocial worker from the local office. If there is evidence of abuse or neglect(deemed protection), or if the social worker decides to intervene for reason ofoffering support to the family (deemed non-protection), a Family Service file isopened and recordings are thereafter kept of all interaction with the family.When a child is apprehended, a Child-in-Care (CIC) file is also opened andmaintained until the child is returned to the home or is adopted.36Ministry Files as the Source of TextAt the proposal stage of this research, Child-In-Care files were going tobe used as the text for analysis. However, it was found that if the child ismade a permanent ward of the state the CIC case file leaves the district office.The Family Service (FS) file does not; it remains at the local site as long as thechild's family stays in that catchment area, and it contains copies of what is inthe CIC file. It was reasonable, therefore, to change the source of text fromChil-in-Care files to Family Service files in order to have as much of the writteninformation about the family as possible.Only closed Family Service files were included for study. Gathering datafrom closed files ensured availability of files; many open files were thoughtinaccessible as they were distributed among staff offices. Due to the lack ofstorage space in the district office, the closed files most easily accessed werefound to be the most recently closed. For this reason, the sampling framechosen was for the year 1991. There was a total of 72 Family Service filesclosed between January and December of 1991.Of the 72 Family Service files in the sampling frame, 20 were identifiedas having child neglect as a reason for ministry involvement. The identificationof neglect in each file was accomplished in two ways. First, the DistrictSupervisor pulled files she knew had issues of neglect. Secondly, theresearcher looked through each of the remaining files to pull the ones that hadneglect targeted as at least one of the reasons for investigation. For the37purposes of obtaining the sample, neglect was understood to mean neglect if itwas described in the files as disability of parent, neglect, absence of parent orabandonment. These terms are what the Ministry of Social Servicescategorizes as "neglect".Procedures for Data Collection Approval to conduct the research was obtained from the University ofB.C. Committee for Research and Other Studies Involving Human Subjects.Permission to access Ministry of Social Services files was obtained from theSuperintendent of Family and Child Services. As a matter of protocol, the AreaManager was contacted for permission to go into a district office in his area.On the manager's evaluation of its representativeness of the urban child neglectcaseload, a district office in east Vancouver was chosen as the local site. Itwas reported by the district supervisor to be one of the busiest offices in termsof numbers of cases investigated.Of the 20 closed files identified as neglect cases in the calendar year1991, only 18 were actually used in this study because two went missing,possibly during a relocation of the district office some blocks away from theoriginal site.The 18 Family Service files were listed, using a numbering system so asto safeguard confidentiality of file identification yet allow the researcher toreference them. The list was kept in the office of the district supervisor. Theministry uses the names of the mothers to identify families, unless there is no38mother present in the family unit. Except for one family which had only a singlefather, the files in this study were organized by the ministry using the names ofmothers. For the purposes of this study, the recorded data were organized intoseparate files to correspond with the Family Service files, and were designated"F" (for female) or "M" (for male), respectively. The names of the mothers inthe files were substituted by alphabetized names for each numbered file. Forexample, in files listed as F01, F02, and F03 the mothers' names weresubstituted as Anne, Betty, and Connie, respectively. Other real names weresubstituted with generic titles such as "grandmother", "father", "son", "baby"and so forth. The data collected did not in any way identify the families or thesocial workers who were the communicators in the files.The determinants for including text for analysis (which was recordedverbatim onto foolscap) were: if the text was a review recording, anassessment, a service plan, a running record, or an intake. If it was a duplicate,then it was not included.An intake is the initial file recording which is done when a protection ornon-protection call is put into the ministry. These are not always clearlymarked nor filled out completely, resulting in missing data such as whetherthere is a child protection concern. The running records are file recordingswritten by the case worker to keep abreast of events. A service plan issometimes but not always written out. A plan includes goals toward which themother works in her attempt to ameliorate the problem which brought the39welfare authorities to her family. An assessment is sometimes but not alwayswritten out. It includes a determination of the identified child protectionconcern and the ability of the mother to respond appropriately. A review recording is usually written when a file is being closed, transferred, or updatedafter a length of time without contact with the family. With the inclusion ofthese five categories of text, virtually all written records in each file becamedata for analysis.Upon completion of the textual analysis, the collected data were returnedto the district office to be sent to the paper shredder.Analysis Strauss and Corbin's (1990) grounded theory analysis was found to fitthe nature of this study. As well as utilizing procedures which call for constantcomparisons, its coding process takes into account the context of thephenomenon being studied. Strauss and Corbin (1990) explain that context canmean a set of properties that pertain to a phenomenon but that context is also:"the particular set of conditions within which the action/interaction strategiesare taken to manage, handle, carry out, and respond to a specific phenomenon"(p. 101). As I argue throughout this study, the context of child neglect iscritical in the analysis.In describing the rationale for using a modification of grounded theoryanalysis, I am reminded that the steps in analyzing the data are related to thearrangement of the contents of this study. The layout of this study40intentionally takes the reader through a series of discourses to order and explainthe context in which women experience motherhood and allegations of childneglect. The introduction gives my reasoning for examining the two themes offamily and motherhood, and the validity of exploring women's experiencesthrough the voices of feminist theorists. As well, the introduction outlines therationale for using textual analysis as methodology. The second chapterdiscusses the problems encountered in defining and assessing child neglect, andthe propensity of traditional approaches for excluding an analysis of genderrelations in explaining child neglect. The chapters dealing with the themes offamily and motherhood and the theories of causation of child neglect are to helpthe reader understand the arguments being put forward by feminists whichchallenge the traditionalist perspectives through an analysis of ideologies. Thechapter outlining the development of current B.C. child welfare legislationexplains the policy framework within which child protection social workerspractice. In placing the research in this social and political context, I hope thatthe reader will develop an understanding of the feminist framing of events andalso be clear about my assumptions of the relations of ruling brought to theinterpretative procedures.In following this systematic order of chapters, I chose to present the dataanalysis in two parts. The first, Chapter seven, presents the data found in eachof the eighteen Family Service files. The second part, Chapter eight, is theanalysis which brings into discussion the themes that emerged from the case41studies. I thought that the analytical feature of a two-part presentation wouldgive as complete an exposure as possible of the data.The data were coded initially to begin conceptualizing the phenomenon ofchild neglect, a process called open coding. As described by Strauss andCorbin (1990), open coding names and categorizes the phenomena by makingcomparisons and asking questions. I asked such questions as, "whatrepresents child neglect?" and "what are the conditions under which thefamilies are living?" (i.e. context of the allegations of neglect). Are the needs ofmothers considered in the process? Other questions raised during the opencoding process were:Are there fathers present in the family unit?What constitutes evidence of child neglect?What behaviors of the mothers are deemed neglectful?What behaviors of the fathers are deemed neglectful?How do the procedures of investigation document neglect?What interventions are carried out?Comparisons were made within and between case analyses to discovercategories. The open coding process was done by coding sentences andparagraphs, asking the question, "What is the major idea brought out bythis...paragraph?", as suggested by Strauss and Corbin (1990, p. 73). Forinstance, an entry in a file that had a number of sentences describing a socialworker visit to a family home was coded and then made a memo in thesubsequent coding step in categorizing the data. An example of this codingprocess is the coding of the social worker visits to the home of Irene. Over aperiod of years, social workers recorded their many visits to Irene's home and42the visits that noted non-white people in the family home were categorizedseparately from the visits that did not mention non-white visitors. Thecategorization of memos of social worker visits having remarks denoting 'race'emerged as part of a theme of institutional racism once the memos from thedata of all eighteen files were compared. That is, the coding process thathighlighted as memos how ethno-cultural backgrounds of all clients wereignored or, if mentioned at all, disparaged were collated with the social workervisits to Irene's home in which remarks denoting 'race' were made. Out of thisinterpretive procedure arose the theme of racism in child welfare practice. Itwas in just such a way of making memos and comparing across categories thatthe themes of mother-blaming, intervention as policing strategy, poverty ascontext, and violence as a feature of control of women were developed.Another example of how themes emerge from the coding process is thatof the patterns found in relation to adolescent women. In the initial opencoding procedures I did not think to ask questions about the girl children of thewomen in this study. It wasn't until I found myself with memos about teenmothers and the sexual violence against them and the younger girl children thatI identified violence and sexual abuse as a form of control in their lives. It wasthe constant comparison and making memos that gave full substance to thedata.Strauss and Corbin (1990) view grounded theory analysis as atransactional system, an analysis that allows one to examine the interactive43nature of events. "The manner in which any phenomenon is expressed isthrough purposeful and related action/interactional sequences.. .embedded insets of conditions" (p. 159). Following this analytical route, whereaction/interaction is seen to "lead to specifiable consequences", anexamination was then made to see how women's experiences were madeobjectified knowledges.The process of textual analysis is an interpretive procedure. This studydoes not attempt to get at the "truth" of child neglect because when using aconstructivist interpretive approach to social phenomena, which this is, thereare multiple constructed "realities". A limitation of this research is that theanalysis is one interpretation of text.To begin the process of contextualizing child neglect in terms of theexperiences of women, there has to be an analysis of the family and women'srole within the family. Therefore, prior to getting into the textual analysis, thenext chapter will examine the ideologies underpinning motherhood and thefamily. Such an historical analysis makes clear how ideological notions of"good and bad" mothering and the "best interests of the child" have shaped theconceptual practices of the ruling apparatuses.44CHAPTER FOURPERSPECTIVES ON MOTHERHOOD AND THE FAMILYIn the western world, the word "family" denotes many variations andcombinations of human interaction and relationship. But however manydifferent ways people conjoin as a family, the connotation of "family" suggestsa particular set of relations in what is commonly called the nuclear family.People talk of the "family" as if it has always existed and imply that the nuclearfamily as it is idealized, with mother and father and children all contentedlyliving under one roof, exists as a universal feature. This ideal of the family ofcourse excludes the reality of most people's lives (Children, Enfants, Jeuness,Youth, 1991; National Council of Welfare, 1991). And although most peopleknow this is not a description of real life, the ideal continues to be promoted invirtually all areas of our lives (Swift, 1991; Bullock, 1990).An implication of subscribing to this static idealized view of the family isthat it hides the power differentials that exist in the family hierarchy whichfavor male dominance (Barrett and McIntosh, 1982). It makes secret thestructural organization of social relations in a capitalist society. Absent fromthe idealized picture of the family are the effects upon it from such factors asracism, violence against women, lack of daycare, structural dislocation, andindadequate social welfare (Swift, 1991; Dailey, 1988).To understand the placement of the family within today's social,economic, and political context its development through time has to be45considered. This historical perspective is necessary particularly when ananalysis of the family is approached using feminist theoretical frameworks. AsSondra Farganis (1986) points out, "In order to situate theory of feminism, onemust account for the historical conditions that have led to changes in the statusof women and, given their traditional involvement in childbearing andchildrearing roles, the family" (p. 66). And more than this, Farganis says:... The question of why women mother is to be answeredpsychologically, but the answer need not be static or withoutconcern for the changing fortunes of women. There is ... adialectical relationship between what women make of themselvesand the specific circumstances in which this project takes place.(Farganis, 1986, p. 80)The relevance of using an historical perspective in understanding social relationsboth sociologically and psycholgically is explained by Deborah Anna Luepnitz(1988) in her book about psychotherapy with families. Luepnitz gives anemphasis to history in order to "challenge the sovereignty of 'common sense',which often leads us to believe that what we have is what we must have.History often exposes common sense to be simply a way of justifying thestatus quo, or at least of blocking further inquiry" (p. 8). Two common senseassumptions put to rest by Luepnitz are the notions that working mothers is anew phenomenon and that child day care is a novelty.Most always, women have combined child rearing with such work asweaving, planting, and other laboring. Substitute child care has "been the normin every social class for the past twenty centuries; it is the exclusive mother-child bond which is the anomaly" (p. 8). More recently the debate in western46industrial nations of whether children are deprived if mothers "work" hasshifted, due largely to the fact that women have to have paid work in order forfamilies to survive financially. The funding for adequate and accessible child-care is still a contentious political issue, however, because although women areneeded in the work force, care for pre-school children is thought to be a privateresponsibility of parents (Ferguson, 1991). And this exemplifies the double-bind mothers are in because although we still hold the notion that a "good"mother is there for her children at all times, she is expected to work outside thehome. Not working outside the home can bring shame and a sense of failure.Many mothers caught in the child welfare system are welfare recipients --welfare mothers -- and by virtue of not having paid work, are subject to thebiases towards someone not "contributing to society". Marlee Kline (1989)points out that when we speak of traditional expectations of mothers staying athome, we are speaking of the ideology of white motherhood:Ideologies of Black female domesticity and motherhood. ..have notbeen constructed in the same way as white ideologies ofdomesticity and motherhood. Under those ideologies, whitewomen's roles are regarded as resting in the private sphererepresented by the family. (p. 130)Kline explains that through employment or chattel position, Black women havebeen thought of as especially suited for work as domestics and surrogatemothers in white homes, and "[t]hus, as compared with white women, Blackwomen may be affected in more complex and contradictory ways by theideological expectations concerning work and motherhood" (p. 131).47Women's roles as mothers and workers is explicated by Sharon Tiffany(1982) in Women. Work and Motherhood. Tiffany also says we must go backin time to understand the present and "we must enlarge our horizons to includeall peoples on this planet" (p. 124). In her discussion of women's work, Tiffanycovers women's role as "producer and reproducer" in four major types ofeconomic settings, using one culture to exemplify each type. These are:woman's role as forager (the !Kung San of southern Africa), as gardener (theHagen of Papua New Guinea), as herder (the Hima of western Uganda), and asfarmer (Chinese peasant society). The role of motherhood in these societies iscompared to women's role in the fifth economic setting, the industrialization ofthe west. Tiffany comments that motherhood has taken on a negative meaningin the western world. It is characterized by powerlessness and isolation:"women's biological processes, including childbearing, are viewed asconstraints, rather than as sources of power and autonomy" (p. 120). Howthis is so will be uncovered as the many layers of family configuration arerevealed through time. In the following analysis, history is divided roughly intotwo family types: pre-modern and modern family. The descriptions are gleanedfrom many sources.Motherhood in Pre-modern FamilyLuepnitz (1988) analyzes family forms beginning with the upper-classfamily of the Roman Republic. During that time women held a central place inthe household and appeared in public. Their work incorporated weaving and48the teaching of children. Men had the final authority in the family and power toaccept or put to death each new born baby, although Luepnitz points out thatRomans cared a great deal about the children they did raise. Women breast-fedtheir babies and had servants to help in child rearing but women wereadmonished not to put too much care of their children to servants. Luepnitzsays that in comparing present day mother-child relationships and infancy tofamily experiences in the past, Roman upper-class infancy has more in commonwith present day infancy than with any of the intervening ten centuries.The historical work of Aries (1962), Centuries of Childhood, is a widelyread and thorough account of childhood from the middle ages until moderntimes. According to Aries' research, childhood was discovered after the middle-ages:The first concept of childhood -- characterized by 'coddling' -- hadmade its appearance in the family circle.. .The second, on thecontrary, sprang from a source outside the family: churchmen orgentlemen of the robe.. .[who] were unwilling to regard children ascharming toys, for they saw them as fragile creatures of God whoneeded to be both safeguarded and reformed. .This concept in itsturn passed into family life ... In the eighteenth century, we findthose two elements in the family, together with a new element:concern about hygiene and physical health. (132-33)This one view holds that in the middle ages children were not seen to be specialin any way. Aries (1962) notes that until well into the seventeenth century,children went from swaddling wraps to adult type clothing, their childhood notdistinguished at all from adulthood. The language of the day did not havewords to describe the development of childhood to adulthood; children were49seen simply as little adults and "the infant who was too fragile as yet to takepart in the life of adults simply 'did not count" (Aries 1962). Aries uses thefollowing quote from the seventeenth century as an example of the attitudes ofthe time: "I have lost two or three children in their infancy, not without regret,but without great sorrow" (p. 39).Although Luepnitz states that Aries was accurate in his writings, shecriticizes his date of the discovery of childhood. Aries argues that therecognition of children as being different from adults and therefore requiringspecial attention did not arise until the middle ages. In fact, Luepnitz counters,it is more accurate to say that childhood was "rediscovered" at that time.Without the knowledge of antiquity, the impression given is that over the pastfour centuries the care and value of children has gradually improved. Luepnitz,citing documentation of childhood in antiquity, shows this is not so. Therefore,we cannot assume that modern day childhood is the culmination of progressivechange.In the account of the aristocratic family of the sixteenth- and seventeeth-century Europe, Luepnitz explains that in the small aristocratic populationwomen were thought to enjoy sex just as men did. Public affairs were notuncommon. The raising of children was not seen as a major occupation andbabies were farmed out to wetnurses. Because of the lack of privacy and thelarge numbers of relatives and servants in any one household, children wereexposed to sexual conduct of adults; and rather than going through50developmental stages of identifying with one or another parent, "aristocraticchildren grew up forming identifications not with particular adults but with thehousehold itself, and with the family line" (p. 119).The everyday life of the peasant family members in Europe was on theother hand quite different in that pre-industrial era. In England the vast majoritywere landless people, hired out to tenant farmers. The margin of theirsubsistence was provided by common and waste lands (Piven and Cloward,1974). The work done by men was not separated geographically from theirfamily life. Work that enabled the family to exist was integrated into the realmof marriage, birthing, child-rearing, eating, and other aspects of everyday living.Husbands and wives worked side by side to meet the needs of their family unitand children were given responsibilities from the time they very young, such aslooking after their younger siblings, and when they were older working side byside with adults (Ehrenreich and English, 1978). Without wanting toromanticize families of old -- privation was an everyday event and the familywas patriarchal, gaving men ownership over the labour of their wives andchildren -- written descriptions do give an account of the cohesion of work anddaily living for all members of a family:The custom among ... artisans, shop keepers, smallholders andunskilled labourers was for whole families to work together.Husband, wife and children tended to form a single economic unitin which the wife played a critical part. (Daily, 1982, p.104)51Luepnitz (1988) states that authority was situated in the community and not inthe conjugal unit. This meant that life took place "in the context of the entirevillage, not at the household level" (p. 120).Unlike any of the other writers cited in this chapter, Luepnitz points outthat it is in this particular era of history, from the fifteenth to seventeenthcenturies, that the witch burnings took place. She was advised by friends notto include in her book the witch trials as part of the history of the familybecause the extent of the trials and the reasons for them are under debate byhistorians (the estimates of women killed range from one hundred thousand toseveral million. In Toulouse, Luepnitz notes, records show that 440 womenwere killed in one day; in Trier in 1585, two villages were left with only onefemale inhabitant each). She asks, "Can the institutionalized execution ofwomen in a given historical period really be irrelevant to understandingmotherhood in that same period?" (p. 123). Without the writings of Luepnitz tojog the memory, this study of the social construction of child neglect wouldhave been written with absolutely no reference in its historical view of thefamily to this mass killing of women. Society's collective sense of history isselective and androcentric. Even as I analyze the ideologies prescribingmotherhood and family in order to understand how women are devalued, Iunwittingly devalue women myself because I ignore or forget our experiencesthrough history.52Many of the women who were burned were old and poor, and theypractised the old religion. Luepnitz cites the work of Antonia Fraser (1984)who comments that a great number of the women burned were midwives andthat the end of the trials coincided with the advent of the male physicians'exclusive power in the healing profession. Luepnitz notes that in the MalleusMale ficarum men are thought better to accuse their wives of witchcraft than todivorce them because of the Church prohibition on divorce.The church's extreme vilification of women is summed up in a phrasefrom the Malleus Maleficarum: women are the carnal source of all evil. In anaccount of history, Riane Eisler (1987) cautions the reader not to infer from thisexpression that the misogynistic view held by the Church was just a result ofsexually frustrated men. She says it was "far more than a psychological quirk.It was a justification for male dominance ..." (p. 141).A last comment by Luepnitz on the trials exemplifies how the exclusionof history in understanding motherhood colludes in the continued oppression ofwomen:The executions represent the intent on the part of some patriarchalsectors to eliminate midwives, or bad wives, or the "bad mother",from the social group. Traditional history books sustain the intentby failing even to mention these women. Textual elimination byhistorians, done in the name of avoiding subjects that cannot beinvestigated with accuracy, is what makes it easier fornonhistorians -- family therapists, for example -- to ignore thebrutalization of women, past and present. (p. 124)Aries (1962) does not mention this war against women and it is also unclearfrom reading his work how girl children fit into the schooling of children during53this period. All of the personal accounts of individuals' experiences in theirtutoring indicate they are male. The common usage of subsuming femalesunder male pronouns makes it impossible to discern the actual gender of thechildren he is referring to in general. It may, however, be assumed that boychildren were the object of concentration: "In the early nineteenth century, theinternment of the child and the young man far from the world and his ownfamily was considered one of the ideal forms of education ..." (p. 281).Motherhood in Modern Family The pre-industrial world gave way to the changes brought about at thetime of industrialization. People moved from rural areas, and crafts and guildsgave way to capitalist production; wives and husbands no longer workedtogether under the same roof; and family life, as it was experienced underfeudalism, evolved away from the community into a private sphere (Daily,1982; Ehrenreich and English, 1978). By the middle eighteen hundreds "the oldways of thinking about things -- which posited a static, hierarchical social orderpresided over by the Heavenly Father -- were already losing their credibility ..."(Ehrenreich and English, 1978).It is pointed out by Ehrenreich and English (1978) that in order forindividualism and capitalism to flourish, the old patriarchal ways had to go. "Inpolitics, in science, in philosophy, there was one dominant theme: the struggleagainst the old structures of patriarchal authority, represented by the king,feudal lords, the Pope, and often, the father in the family" (p.14). They54acknowledge that while the market required the defeat of the patriarchalideology, the new organization was nonetheless "masculinist". They remind usthat at the time of industrialization "the rising middle class -- the bourgeoisie --were not yet 'the establishment', but the rebels" (p.15). It was with thisgrowth of a middle class in the nineteenth century that family life again shifted.The nineteenth century marked the beginning of the idealization of familyand motherhood. The Romantic period had taken hold with William Blake, LordByron, and Keats. Anne Bullock (1990) relates how our notions of communityoriginate "from idealizations developed by philosophers and sociologists in thenineteenth century.." (p. 67). And Bullock explains that initially the "ideal"woman and family were bourgeois and in order to emulate the role, one had tohave the resources which were available only to the bourgeoisie. The bourgeois"ideal" woman and family also became the ideal of the working class over time,in part facilitated by state processes (Chunn, 1988). The "ideal" as it was tobe articulated into the twentieth century became the "ideal" by which everymother is measured, even at the present time.The arrival of the Victorian era fanned the idealization of motherhood andfamily. Ehrenreich and English (1978) supply a quote from Darwin whichhighlights the kind of attitudes prevalent at the time of the romanticization ofmotherhood:Woman seems to differ from man in mental disposition, chiefly inher greater tenderness and less selfishness ... It is generallyadmitted that with woman the powers of intuition, of rapidperception, and perhaps of imitation, are more strongly marked55than in man; but some, at least, of these faculties arecharacteristic of the lower races, and therefore of a past and lowerstate of civilization.The notion of white supremacy also echoed in this sentiment was common, andBritish imperialism and American republican citizenship are based on the cleardifferentiation of white men and Blacks, Asians and "ethnics" (Mink, 1990).The same attitudes characterized the colonization of aboriginal people in Canadaand provided impetus for the concept of reserves and residential schools.Growing out of the romanticized ideal of woman was the idealization ofthe child. Ehrenreich and English (1978) ask, "What had happened near theturn of the century to bring the child out of the background and into thespotlight of public attention? (p. 166). They explain that in the previouscentury "women had, on average, seven live births in the course of their lives; athird or half would not survive to the age of five" (p.167) and that it was notuncommon to refrain from naming a child for several months so as not to wastethe use of the name. Poor sanitation and nutrition claimed most of these lives.But by the turn of the century child mortality was already declining in thewestern world with the advancement of science, the development of social andeconomic infrastructures, and public awareness. As more babies survived,women began to prevent pregnancies and "from a strictly biological standpointthen, children were beginning to come into their own" (Ehrenreich and English,1978, p. 167).56At the time that children were becoming romanticized, public attentionwas also being brought to the extensive ways in which children were beingexploited, abused and neglected. The expanding industrial economy swept upmillions of children into factories and sweat shops.Near the turn of the century, an estimated 2,250,000 Americanchildren under fifteen were full-time laborers ... Four-year-oldsworked sixteen-hour days sorting beads and rolling cigars in NewYork City tenements; five-year-old girls worked the night shift insouthern cotton mills. (Ehrenreich & English, 1978)To keep from starving, all members of a family went to work and performedwhat they had to in order to meet subsistance needs. Mothers put babies outto wet nurses or fed them pap because there was no time for them. Witheveryone engaged in factory labour sixteen hours a day, clearly any kind ofintimacy and shared activities that maintain health and relationships in a familywere impossible. Ehrenreich and English (1978) noted, "all members of thefamily [were] reduced alike to wage slavery, all human relations... dissolved inthe cash nexus" (p. 169).In the market at that time there were no barriers to exploiting childrenand women, but there was also no economic rationalization for supportingdependents. Ehrenreich and English explain that "there were no ties ofeconomic self-interest to preserve the family.. .[it was] a world engorged by theMarket, a world without love" (p. 169). Politicians, male labourers and theirunions, and middle class women took up the call to reestablish stability of thefamily and that meant a move to get women and children out of the factories.57Working class men supported this shift in the labour market. They andthe developing unions fought for wages that would support not only a man buthis dependents, including his wife. The notion of a "family wage" persistedinto the latter part of this century. But such action was not altruistic. Byeliminating women from the workforce (except, of course, in service positionsthat replicate women's caring role in the family) men could open up positionsfor themselves and demand certain wages. The move was to eliminate the poolof women as cheap labour for employers to draw upon. Although the return tothe home meant release from wage slavery and the ability for a woman to bewith her children, it also meant that she lost whatever semblance of autonomyshe had gained (Ehrenreich and English, 1978). Leupnitz (1988) comments,Some commentators view the bifurcation of the bourgeois worldaccording to gender as a step backward for women preciselybecause it made their work invisible. (No one would have asked apeasant mother whether she worked; nearly everyone has askedcontemporary mothers that question.) (p. 129)Fiona Williams (1989) describes the developing post-industrial family unit as buta part of the dominant ideology of familism taking hold: "a set of ideas whichcharacterized the 'normal' or 'ideal' family form as one where the man was thebreadwinner and his wife's main contribution to the family was through her roleas mother, carer and housewife ... and who was therefore, along with herchildren, financially dependent upon her husband" (p. 6). This arrangement isloosely described as the gender-based division of labour, and as such, disavowsthe existence of lesbian mothers.58Within this set of relations was the developing repression of sexuality.Children who had in the previous century watched animals and adultscopulating, were now instructed in the evils of "self-abuse". Babies werephysically restrained from touching their genitals and toilet training was done ina harsh way.The adult dominion over children and their bodies was nothingnew, of course; children had always been beaten and abused.What was new was that the physical controls and punishmentswere being administered in the name of improving the child'spersonality and, even more important, in the context of anintensely personal parent-child relationship. (Luepnitz, 1988, p.128)What Luepnitz explains is that the bourgeois ideal, which also became the idealof all classes, pitted "bodily pleasure against parental approval -- exchangingphysical gratification for maternal love. Repression in the bourgeois family thusmade it the breeding ground for the kind of neurosis that Freud was todescribe" (p. 128).As women and children took up domesticity apart from the public world,the doctors and business men and their middle class wives took up the task ofeducating women to be "proper" mothers. By the turn of the century MothersClubs, national congresses, domestic science leaders, and home health visitorshad become popularized in Britain, the United States and Canada.Mothers, especially poor mothers, became suspect in their child rearingabilities. Deborah Dwork (1987) researched the history of the infant and childwelfare movement in England from 1898-1918. In War is Good for Babies and 59Other Young Children, she relates how "Henry Scott Holland, Canon of St.Paul's ... had much contact with poor mothers. He wrote, 'Our first duty is toteach the art of motherhood" (p. 130). Even though poverty was a factor inthe health of children, Dwork notes that "couched in varying degrees of moraldoctrine, the principle of pedagogy was clearly becoming the most popularremedy" to rates of morbidity and mortality of children (p.130).Motherhood had become a responsibility that women had apparently noskills to perform. Psychologists set up laboratories, held conferences anddeveloped theories about human behavior. G. Stanley Hall founded the newfield of child study . "In Hall's view, the truly scientific mother did not simplyraise her child, she studied it, making notes which could serve as field data forthe male academic experts" (Ehrenreich and English, 1978, p. 180). Wheretwo decades previously children were just raised in a family, and wherefollowing that they had been idealized by the mothers' movement, they werenow the objects of the industrial model of rearing children. Books andgovernment pamphlets were purposefully drafted and distributed to educatemothers.Nationalism also played a major role. The child was thought to be thekey to the future and the romanticized ideal of woman as responsible formolding the child appropriately.With clear eyes we must see the goal of our effort and withunfaltering steps journey towards it. The goal is nothing less thanthe redemption of the world ... The way of the kingdom which isto come on earth, as in heaven, is placed in the hands of a child,60and that child's hands a woman holds. (From a speech at aninternational conference on motherhood in 1908, as cited inEhrenreich & English, 1978, p. 171)Deborah Dwork (1987) says that a milk depot system had been set up inEngland in response to the earlier problem of infant mortality due to unsanitaryconditions. She notes that the declining birth rate was cause for alarm insofaras the 'future of the nation' was at stake (p.129). Veronica Strong-Boag(1982), who researched the development of the childcare movement in Canadafrom 1920-1940, writes of this concern: "Women's receptivity to would-beadvisors was enhanced by post-war celebration of maternalism ... Nationalsurvival was depicted as dependent on women's acceptance of their 'proper'role" (p.161).Woman's place in society was being firmly fixed as wife and mother butthe message being given women was that they could not satisfactorily carryout their responsiblities without help from the professionals, from the men whohad appropriated child rearing as their area of expertise. "External attempts toregulate the critical parent-child bond almost invariably reviewed the credentialsof the average canadian mother. Eager tutors in medicine, education, andsocial work contrasted their superior professionalism with parental amateurism"(Strong-Boag, 1982, p.161). And although the experts did have informationneeded by mothers to prevent disease and death, "...At issue, too, as childcareprofessionals well knew, was a transfer of domestic authority. Female power61and prestige in nineteenth and twentieth-century Canada were tied to women'srole in reproduction and early socialization" (Strong-Boag, 1982, p.161).There is no consensus in the feminist response to the development ofmale authorities appropriating command over the domestic world. Ann Daily(1982) does not accept the notion that early feminists cared particulary aboutissues of motherhood. She says they did not experience motherhood as aproblem because so few of them were involved in the daily care of the children."They fought for the franchise and for equality before the law, and on thewhole did not question the division of labour. Those who were mothers hadplenty of servants and did not find child-rearing particularly irksome" (p.155).As with many later feminists, it is thought by Daily that early feminists lacked aclass analysis that would have allowed them to think beyond their ownprivileged life style. She agrees with Ehrenreich and English (1978) whoconclude that the women who were caught up in the mothers' movement,along with the child experts, "paid scant attention to the 'lower' classes, partlyon account of the middle-class prejudice that the poor should not be bearingchildren in the first place..." (p.186)On the other hand, Linda Gordon (1988), who researched family violenceand its social control in Boston from 1880-1960, says that child-saving hadgender as well as class and ethnic content. But, she explained, "in none ofthese aspects did it simply or homogeneously represent the interests of adominant group. Rather, the anti-patriarchalism of the child-protection agencies62was the unstable product of several conflicting interests" (p. 57). Theseinterests included upper-class Protestant Bostonians, conservative feministreformers, and professional social workers. Nineteenth century "maternalfeminism" was a movement that had put women into the public sphere. Thepublic work that women performed (e.g. teaching, care of dependent children,establishment of health services for poor women) was an extension of the workof caring done in the home (Baines, 1991).Ann Oakley (1986) explains that when we look at feminist responses tomotherhood, we are looking at the historical relationship between feminism andmotherhood, and that "what has tended to happen is that feminists have used aparticular (and class-differentiated) vision of the status quo in order to define adifferent projected future for motherhood"(p. 128). Therefore, early feminism held a variety of positions aboutmotherhood. Motherhood was "essentially unproblematic" in part because "itwasn't necessary to defendwomen's right not to have children" (p. 131).One the whole, the struggle to render women citizensovershadowed the need to understand motherhood in relation towomen's overall situation.. .as differentiated by class, ethnicity,and economics... (p. 131)Missing in much of the literature is the connection of racial issues to gender andclass in explanations of child rearing. Racism figured prominantly at the localsite and internationally as the leading world powers continued their policies of63imperialism and republicanism (Williams, 1989; Mink, 1990). The followingstatement expresses the power relations that were being entrenched in the firstdecades of this century: "The authority of state over individual, of professionalover amateur, of science over tradition, of male over female, of ruling class overworking class, were all involved in the redefining of motherhood in this period"(cited in Williams, 1989, p. 157). Clearly, racial issues and those of class andgender in all of their complex displays were integral to the movements afoot atthe time.To express the degree to which women were being hailed as incompetentmothers by the childcare experts, Strong-Boag (1982) uses the word "assault".Educators and child experts found poor women posed a particular problem. "Ifthe middle-class woman could not always be counted on to follow instructions,she could at least be counted on to read the experts' books. What about thewoman who did not read English, or did not read at all?" (Ehrenreich andEnglish, 1978, p. 186). Veronica Strong-Boag (1982) addresses this very issueof class oppression:While most parents were at liberty to reject or accept advice, manysaw their authority over their children eroded. Especially vulnerablewere mothers and fathers who by reason of illness, death orunemployment found themselves dependent upon the emergingwelfare state. [They] found themselves subject to intervention bychildcare professionals employed by the state ... The greatmajority of these intrusions were in the homes of the anonymousand forgotten poor (p. 173).The established pedagogy of motherhood has had a detrimental impact onwomen down through the years, as evidenced in the writings of authors cited in64this discussion. And it has become an overt force shaping our beliefs andattitudes about mothering today. Yet the difference between the 1920's andpresent day is that,In the early phase ... the active leaders started with an explicitlystated ideology of motherhood and maternal duty ... Their visionof a good mother -- available and interested in her child'seducation, ready to support the efforts of the school, able to takepart in a local Home and School club -- has become the not sohidden referent against which all mothers continue to be measured... differences ... based on class and race -- were increasinglyalossed over. [emphasis added] (Dehli, 1990, p. 59)Where this leaves mothers is always having to subscribe to an ideal which isbeyond the possibilities, if not the inclinations of most classes of women.Steeped in the developments of the turn of the century, the ideal reflects theentrenchment of a sexual division of labour, with men in the public (work)sphere and women in the private (domestic) sphere. This is not to say thatwomen and men are actually functioning in discrete environments. Howeverisolated women and children have been and still are from the "public" world ofbusiness and the political arena, the lives of women and children are effecteddaily by the decisions of men.Barrett and McIntosh (1982) say that there are dangers in posing thedistinction between private and public as a determining difference:The construction of 'the family' as a privatized zone with rigidbarriers to prevent the intrusion of the social is an ideologicalprocess rather than a given of capitalist society (p. 90).Barrett and McIntosh caution that the distinction "should be an object ofanalysis not a conceptual tool".65Meg Luxton (1980) moved away from the "public/private" dichotomywhen she instead picked up Engels' integrated analysis of the false separationof family labour and other labour, an analysis which has been absent inMarxism through the years. Luxton says that what has been focussed on is the"production of the means of existence" and what has been left out is the"production of human beings themselves" (p. 13). If, she says, a worker inindustrial production is seen as someone who lives a twenty-four hour day andnot an eight-hour-shift, "then it becomes clear that domestic labour is one ofthe central labour processes of industrial capitalism" (p. 14). The workersreturn to the household from their jobs to rest and restore energy (reproducetheir labour power) so that the next day they can return to the job. Domesticlabour, women's labour, is the labour that allows for the reproduction of wage-labour power. And it is domestic labour, the work for which women are heldresponsible, that ensures the next generation of labourers. Luxton locates thedomestic activities of women in four processes:1. Looking after herself, her husband, and other adult members of thehousehold2. Childbearing and childrearing3. Housework4. Transformation of wages into goods and services ("making endsmeet")But Luxton is careful to note that these are not distinct processes, rather eachis affected by the other. To understand domestic labour (including motherhood)one must examine "how these processes are interwoven to form the total fabricof women's work" (p. 19).66It is important to understand the fabric of women's experiences becausewe have a tendency to think of domestic labour as a "labour of love" (Luxton,1980, p. 12) and therefore outside the purview of labour standards. Doingdomestic labour is often isolating, menial, frustrating, never-ending, and atwenty-four-hour job that receives no wage. And domestic labour is notseparated in the way wage-labour is. A woman's workplace is her home and"time and leisure are indistinguishable" (p. 46).The consequences of the arrangment of domestic labour on women, andthe contradictions this sets up for women as wives and mothers is crucial tounderstanding the issue of child neglect. The analysis in this chapter hasattempted to place women's role as mothers in an historical, economic, andsocial context. The discussion of ideologies has enabled us to see howrelations of power and the values held by those in positions of power haveinfluenced societal attitudes about mothering. But more than this thediscussion has led to the point where we are to understand that all that issupposed to be private about family life is not really very private at all; and thathow mothers raise children is very much "man made". That is, motherhood aswe understand it in our society is not "natural" at all, it is a socially constructedideal arising from capitalist patriarchy.In the way that I have tried to get at the ideolgoical underpinnings ofmotherhood and the family to illuminate how what mothers are supposed to beand experience are prescribed by social, political, and economic forces, Sandra67Knight (1992) has effectively deconstructed and reconstructed motherhood byexamining the myths prescribing mothers' behaviors and which women areforced to live out across the generations. The myths Knight has identifiedcontain directives by which women shall live: women "are told what to expect,think, feel and do" (p. 13). The following directives are coined by Knight as"Thou Shall" (also known as the "shoulds"):consider childcare and homecare to be easy, enjoyable andfulfilling;be satisfied with marriage and children;be a fountain of love and nurturing;be selfless;always love thy children and husband;bond immediately with thy baby;do all of the childcare and homemaking;have healthy children;have a husband;be heterosexual;have a husband who provides financially;be a full-time mother and homemaker;create a comfortable, clean, quiet home for thy husband;take care of thy husband's emotional and physical health;appreciate thy husband for his hard labours;put thy family before all other relationships;68feel guilty for not achieving these standards;feel anger at self for not achieving these standards;blame thyself if anything goes wrong with thy children;be grateful for help from thy husband;understand that thy husband does not have the training and the biologyto care for children and a household;understand that thy husband is tired after a day at his work;understand that thy husband works and thou does not;require the help of experts;know it all;perpetuate the myths of motherhood to other women including yourdaughters.The following are "Thou shall not" (or the "should nots"):complain, be unhappy or depressed;be angry with thy child or husband;run out of energy for others;be concerned about self;need virtually anything: breaks, babysitters, equal participation frompartner, outside interest, or paid employment, a sense of self;blame others for thy failures;allow 'outside' interests to take away from thy family;expect satisfaction for self;speak of thy experience if it is different than the myth.69Knight says that these prescriptions are "crazymaking, limiting, andcontradictory. They are a recipe for depression, suicide, child abuse, burn-out,and relationship deterioration with a prescribed root cause of self-blame" (p.14).From this explication of the myths and ideologies which framemotherhood, we go next to the theories of causation of child neglect. It hasbeen a matter of course that the professionals involved in determining the bestmethods of child rearing have also become the experts in determining whycertain mothers abuse or neglect their children. From Doctor Spock to Polanskyand Garbarino, "expert" men who have assumed authority over mothers andchildrearing, we have received prescriptions to live out the ideologies ofmotherhood. What are such experts saying about child neglect? Whatattributions are they making about the breakdown of the ideal? Juxtaposedwith the theories of the experts are the analyses of feminists, women who arewriting from the standpoint of women's lived experiences.70CHAPTER FIVEA CRITIQUE OF THEORIES OF CAUSATION OF CHILD NEGLECTAny introduction to the problem of child neglect has to acknowledge thecorrelation of poverty and child maltreatment because the research hasoverwhelming evidence to support this (Martin, 1985; Gough and Boddy, 1986;Garbarino, 1982; PeIton, 1991; Campbell, 1991). In a discussion paper,Protecting Our Children, Supporting Our Families, the B.C. Ministry of SocialServices confirms the relationship of poverty to child neglect:While it is unfair and untrue to characterize single parents asneglectful parents, the stresses and strains of poverty and want doplace single parents in a vulnerable position ... an increasingnumber of children are living in families where the family income isbelow any defintion of poverty ... Families headed by women,aboriginal people, disabled people and recent immigrants are over-represented among the poor. (B.C. Ministry of Social Services,1992a, pp. 9-10)Although it is helpful to have a government ministry acknowledge how veryawful the living conditions are for so many people, the above text does not getat the everyday experiences of the women who are the single parents, forexample. There are about 32,000 single parents in B.C., the majority of whomare women. One of the realities of everyday life for single parent women whohave jobs outside the home as well as the responsibility of the domestic labouris that they get set up in a double bind. A double bind occurs when thesewomen attempt to fulfill their duties of motherhood prescribed by society, whileat the same time put in eight hours (or more) plus travel time everyday at a paidjob. In order to survive financially, in order to meet the demands of a paid job71as well, a single parent is forced to neglect her children (McCannel!, 1993), andthen of course she is thought of badly by those around her.Germain (1985) gives evidence that poverty is clearly a crucial variable.Germain cites a review of child welfare statistics in which "it is established thatthe vast majority of the biological families in the child welfare population live inpoverty" (p. 124). But the role that poverty plays in child neglect is vieweddifferently in the two leading approaches in research of child neglect, thepsychoanalytic theories and the ecology theory.Psychodynamic Theories of Causation Traditionally, researchers and practitioners have targeted mothers as thecrucial mediating variable between poverty and neglect, and have focused theirassessment and treatment of neglect around the deficiencies of the mother(see, for example, Polansky et al., 1981; Faller, 1981; Kadushin and Martin,1981; Williams and Money, 1980).In the published works of Polansky, DeSaix and Sharlin (1973) and HaIly,Polansky and Polansky (1980) neglectful parents are said to be unlike otherparents of the same status insofar as there is a psychodiagnosis of characterdisorders. The types of personalities observed were: The Apathetic-FutileMother; The Impulse-Ridden Mother; The Mentally Retarded Mother; TheMother in a Reactive Depression; and the Psychotic Mother. The three mostprevalent disorders are the apathy-futility syndrome, the impulse-riddencharacter, and infantile emotional functioning (Tzeng, Jackson and Karlson,721991. p. 190). The reader may at this point recollect the myths outlined bySandra Knight (1992) that I cited in the last chapter. In relation to womenbeing attributed these psychiatric labels, Knight points out, for example, that"when one out of every five new mothers experiences post partum depression,we need to look deeply at why. We must examine the role and job descriptionand not the woman and worker" (p. 18).The number of research studies testing the theories of personalitydisorders are few. Tzeng, Jackson and Karlson (1991) acknowledge that thepersonalistic view, as they call the theory of personality deficit, is not able tosay what causes the deficit in the first place. In their introduction to childneglect they note that although neglect accounted for over fifty percent ofincident reports in the United States, child neglect "accounts for less than 10percent of published and research reports in all professional journals". And,equally important, it is because of a lack of theory development in the area ofchild neglect that "no theories or models of neglect per se ... are currently beingused by the service community" (p. 189). Nonetheless, these authors find itpossible to state that the personalistic view "presents an excellent approach todealing with neglectful factors" (p. 193).Family systems theory, while placing the individual within a broadersocial context than just the family, still works from the premise that the familyis the most important of all systems having an impact on individuals, virtually73ignoring social and economic systems (Family Impact Seminars, 1990). Barrettand McIntosh (1982), in their discussion on The Anti-social Family, shed somelight on how family therapy models locate problems in the individual and thefamily instead of in the broader socio-political context:Conservative thought is often said to focus on the idea ofindividualism: self-help, self-support, self-sufficiency, self-respect.It rejects dependence, 'scrounging', collectivism, the belief that'the world owes you a living'. Yet in practice the unit of self-support is not the individual but the family (p. 47).The confusion of individual and family "reflects a close association between thetwo in everyday life ... In this setting of intimate interdependence [i.e. thefamily], it is not surprising that the explanation of individual troubles should besought in the constellation of the immediate family" (Barrett and McIntosh,1982, p. 50).Comley (1989) points out that family systems theory "still tends towardsthe assumption that the overall social structure is essentially benign" (p. 51).Deborah Anna Luepnitz (1988), in The Family Interpreted, gives a feministcritique of eight family therapy perspectives. From Ackerman through Bowenand Satir, from Minuchin to Whitaker, Luepnitz provides evidence of the trendof family therapy to ignore or devalue "qualities for which women aresocialized" and blatant sexism (in a 1966 publication Ackerman asks thehusband if his wife "is a good piece") (p. 42). The limitations of systemstheory and the cybernetic epistemology of Bateson (a popular anthropologistwhose influence on family systems theory is evidenced in the fact that Luepnitz74found Bateson cited more often than anyone else in over fifty family therapytexts) is that although it "can provide a useful view of the interrelationshipsbetween elements of a system, it can make no comment on the nature of thesystem itself ..." (p. 152). Luepnitz explores Bateson's ideas on power andgender, noting that "nowhere did he wrestle with the male-female dialectic ofWestern culture" (p. 153). Bateson, she explains, did not believe unilateralpower to exist and family therapists, following this notion, "have tried to dowithout a concept of power ... [which] has led to some nefarious ideas thatmen who beat their wives are in a 'complementary dance' with them" (p. 162).Dale and Foster (1986) accept that family therapy may be beneficial towomen in understanding their relationships within their own families but theypoint out that "as yet family therapy has failed to address the problem ofwomen's collective oppression within a patriarchal/capitalist society and withinthe particular institution of the family which that society supports, and which inturn recreates women's oppression" (p. 97). Systems theory speaks of thefamily as a natural system of checks and balances. Yet, if this metaphor assystem is used, the impression one gets is that of a family over time "evolving"into a better and better organism. Yet this is a fallacy and a dangerous notionto hold because it hides the social construction of human relations and thepower differentials inherent in an oppressive structure. Leupnitz warns us ofthis in the preceding chapter outlining the developments of family life.75There are exceptions to prevailing systems theory within the realm offamily therapy practice. Much has been written by feminist therapists inrelation to family therapy practice (see, for example, McCannell and Herringer,1990; Belenky, Clinchy, Goldberger and Tarule, 1986; Caplan and Hall-McCorquodale, 1985; and Avis, 1989). In an article providing an overview andreading guide to feminist issues in family therapy, Judith Myers Avis (1988)cites the various reasons suggested for family therapy's failure to incorporatethe literature on women. As well as the dominance of family therapy by maleleaders, there are the awkward questions raised by feminist critiques regardingthe viability of the family and of family therapy itself. There is also thepossibility that family therapists believe they are already practicing in anonsexist, nonblaming way. Avis notes that "the fundamental factor cited bymost authors as primarily responsible for the field's isolation is family therapy'scommitment to and reliance upon systems theory as the single organizingframework for conceptualizing and intervening in family relationships" (p. 16).Feminist authors such as those presented in Avis' article necessarily take intoaccount the personal and the political, including the feminization of poverty.The failure of most psychodynamic studies to delineate environmentalfactors in etiology means that factors such as poverty often get lost in thepractice of social work. Polansky himself says,At first glance, the connection of poverty to neglect seems obvious... We take for granted that without an adequate financial floorunder a family the children in it will share a miserable standard ofliving. But this takes us into the arena of social action, and that is76beyond the scope of this book ... This book is focused almostentirely on the diagnosis and treatment of mothers, but this doesnot imply that other efforts are not also necessary and useful.(Polansky et al., 1973, p. 9)How convenient to simply put these other "necessary and useful" effortsoutside the purview of their work. It is apparently of no concern that they maynot be addressed at all, anywhere. Yet in the context of the psychodynamiccausation of neglect, Michael Rutter (1981) reexamined Bowlby's (1952)assessment of maternal deprivation and found that in relation to the interactiveeffect of stresses, "it is important to appreciate that there are also transactionaleffects whereby one stress (biological or social) actually increases the likelihoodof occurrence of others. Thus, children from deprived homes were twice aslikely to have recurrent admission to hospital" (Quinton and Rutter, 1976, ascited in Rutter, 1981, p. 210).Other studies also find poverty to be a crucial variable. The results of alongitudinal study conducted in Ontario (Nelson, 1991) show that familyincome, not marital status [being a single parent], was associated with mothers'life strains and children's self-esteem. Children from low income families hadmore behavior problems than children from higher income families. Thesefindings are supported in the recent Ontario Child Health Study which surveyed3,000 children (Offord, 1990). Dr. Michael Boyle, one of the researchers, saidthat "children from families with the lowest income -- the bottom five to tenpercent -- are three times as likely as wealthier children to develop problems"(Vancouver Sun, Aug. 9, 1991).77Another model of causation of child neglect is that of the socialinteraction model based on the model of child abuse by Gelles (1973). But thismodel and the one put forward by Lesnik-Oberstein, Cohen, and Koers (1982)called the Three-factor model -- made up of (1) parental aggressive feelings, (2)parental inhibition of overt aggressive acts, and (3) the focus of parentalaggression on the child -- subsume child neglect under abuse. Tzeng, Jacksonand Karlson (1991) cite research that shows there are differences in the natureof abuse and that of neglect. Judith Martin (1991), in her chapter in The DarkSide of Families, states that physical abuse differs from other dysfunction inrelationships between parent and child and that in neglect cases "mostpublished works suggest overreporting of homes in which very poor women aresingle heads of households" (p. 293).Ecology Theory of Causation Ecology theory, proposed by Bronfenbrenner (1979), has been the basisof work done by Garbarino (1982). Bronfenbrenner theorized four systems thatare interrelated to the individual: the microsystem of the family; themesosystem made up of outside places that have relationships to the family(e.g. parents' workplace); the exosystem (school and other local settings); andthe macrosystem of political and economic institutions. In Garbarino's studieson neglect (and he talks of neglect in the same breath as abuse), Garbarino(1982) does not dismiss the importance of psychodynamic causation ofmaltreatment but adds the factor of environment: "... with full recognition that78each case of child abuse and neglect has its own special origins, we would liketo suggest that abuse and neglect are not only problems of individual abusersand their victims but are also problems of the social contexts in which theseindividuals live" (Garbarino and Stocking, 1980, p. 2).As explained by Irene Sevcik (1984), the ecological perspective includesthe ontogenic development of the parent which gives a portrayal of theneglectful parent as someone desperate, in a struggle "made difficult both bythe patterns of adaptation brought to the parenting role, and by an environmentthat provides more stresses than supports" (p. 28). Leroy PeIton (1981) statesthat poverty eliminates the "leeway for irresponsibility" that middle classparents have. Overcrowding and dilapidated households "descrease thecapability of parents to maintain proper supervision or heighten the diligence ofthe supervision ... and are likely to increase the risk of nonintentional injury tochildren (PeIton, 1991). The family support movement of the United Statesalso acknowledges social and economic forces, and attempts to enhance parentempowerment in the face of mounting difficulties (Zigler and Black, 1989;Seitz, Rosenbaum and Apfel, 1985).Giovannoni (1985) says that an ecological approach to understandingchild maltreatment "has probably gained wider credence than any other. If oneexamines the various studies, one finds that psychological, social, andeconomic factors all have been found to bear some relationship to situations ofchild maltreatment" (p. 209). In an overview on child abuse and neglect,79Giovannoni (1985) examines societal abuse and institutional abuse and neglect.Speaking of the United States, Giovannoni uses the gross disparities betweenthe health of white children and children of color as an example of societalabuse. Inequality of treatment in the educational system and health caresystem are given as examples of institutional maltreatment. In Canada, thehigh suicide rates of First Nations and Metis children, once again brought tolight by the recent suicides of children in Davis Inlet, exemplifly the horrendousconsequences of institutional abuse and neglect.In an explication of ecosystems (ecology) theory, Allen-Meares and Lane(1987) remind the reader that since the beginnings of professional social work,there have been alternating periods in which social work practice has focussedon either the individual or the community. In my own social work training, Iwas taught to distinguish these as clinical practice (micro) and communitydevelopment (macro), respectively. In ecosystems theory this bifurcation isillustrated as PERSON-environment (emphasis on individual) and person-ENVIRONMENT (emphasis on community). Allen-Meares and Lane point outthat ecology theory aims at a balanced emphasis which looks like this:PERSON-ENVIRONMENT. The authors comment that this balance needs to bedone in a particular context: "An abiding challenge facing the social workprofession is to formulate a unified theory of knowledge and practice insofar asthe historical context of practice significantly influences the relative emphasisplaced on person and environment" (p. 515). The authors list six principles for80social work practice that they believe emphasizes both person and environment:Principle One:Principle Two:Principle Three:assessment requires data be collected about multipleecosystems (e.g. school, home, and community, includingethnic characterisitcsassessment include data from the person, significant others,and direct observation of the client in the environmentassessment gather data on all critical variables that describea person (cognitive and affective characteristics, behavior,etc.Principle Four:^assessment include as many components of variables andsystems as is relevantPrinciple Five:^data must be integrated into a comprehensive picture of theclient's situationPrinciple Six:^assessment must be linked to eclectic repertoire ofintervention stategies; must have interventions that are bothperson- and environment-changingIn following the above principles, the inclusion of institutionalizedinequalities (e.g. policies that discriminate against same-sex couples) could bevariables that would be factored into the assessment. Yet, is there anythingbuilt into the framework or language used in this theory which would ensureconnection is made between the presenting problem and an historical andmaterialist analysis of gender, race, and class relations? The case example thatAllen-Meares and Lane use in their paper is of a boy referred to a local schoolby his adoptive mother who home-schooled him and thought he was a learning-disabled, hyperactive child. The assessment procedure followed the sixprinciples outlined above, and the outcome was deemed to be satisfactory tothe authors: the child wasn't hyper or learning-disabled, but the mother was81found to be "overly anxious" and she received training in parenting skills andtechniques of anxiety reduction. This example may be simply a poor choice onthe part of the authors but it reads like the medical model used in manypsychodynamic theories: study (pull in all the data), diagnosis (assessment findsthe child isn't hyper outside the home or learning- disabled) and treatment (ifthe child is okay, mother must be the problem).Does the mother have a life beyond the children? What is the father like,might he contribute to his wife being overly anxious? He was interviewed butwe know nothing of him or his values about marriage and family. Might he nothave something to do with the restricted social activities allowed his children?What is the colour of the mother? Is she a woman of colour who, along withher children, has had to face racism at school and in the neighbourhood? Suchquestions do not arise when the very important aspect of gender relations infamily dynamics is not thought to be an important variable, and when the veryimportant realities of 'race' and class are obscured by individualizing theproblem.One more example of applied ecology theory will be discussed. BrianWharf (1989) uses this framework in his discussion of a study he carried out onFirst Nations control of child welfare. He states, "The distinguishingcharacteristic of the ecological perspective is its insistence on a holisticunderstanding of individuals in their social context and on tracing theconnections between individuals and the environmental forces which affect82them" (p. 37). Wharf was referring to the overrepresentation of Native childrenin foster care and the extensive poverty on reserves. In order to understandwhat the "environmental forces" were, the consequences (excessiveapprehension of children and poverty) had to be connected to a larger worldpicture of power relations and values. First Nations people had to develop ananalysis from the site of their experiences because the dominant whiteperspective saw nothing wrong with the institution of residential schools andthe enforced unemployment, poverty and racism underpinning the reservesystem.Wharf takes the actions of First Nations people and places it on anecology framework, remarking how their actions fit the theory and practice. Hegoes on to say that ecology theory argues that there is no point to blaming thevictim when individuals have little control over their environment, and "Thus ahelping strategy for an ecological practitioner is to focus on identifying andbuilding strengths rather than on the deficits of individuals ... The ecologicalperspective encourages individuals to take charge of their situation" (p. 38).This sounds very much like the family systems jargon that may help theindividual to understand immediate relations but not see the oppression ofcertain people as a group.Ecology theory may theoretically encompass the potential for structuralchange but in practice the targeted intervention remains at the individual level.This is because the balance that ecology theory attempts to provide, the83PERSON-ENVIRONMENT balance, lacks a PERSONAL-POLITICAL perspective(McCannell, 1993). That is, ecology theory does not contain the historicalmaterialist analysis that would situate any presenting problem within thebroader contextual meaning of class, race and gender relations. Examples ofecology theory in practice rarely talk about linking to social movements (McCannell, 1993).Feminist Theories of Causation In a comprehensive literature review on child neglect, Karen Swift (1988)uses critical theory to critique traditional approaches. The publication,Knowledge About Neglect: A Critical Review of the Literature, is a workingpaper from the faculty of social work at the University of Toronto. Criticaltheory is posed by Swift in relation to logical positivism, the methodologywhich is utilized in much of the positivist social science research. In criticaltheory, Swift says, the subjective and objective worlds are always seen inrelation to one another. This is axiomatic to qualitative research, the basis ofmost feminist research. Swift examines traditional theorists such as Polansky(1981) and Garbarino (1982), critiquing their research and practice processeswhich conceptualize neglect as an "objective social category" (p. 36). She saystheir procedures "strip away the context in which behavior occurs and thesubjective responses of individuals to the [bureaucratic] processes in whichtheir lives are enmeshed" (p. 54). Swift looks at factors of neglect, research onidentification of neglect, studies of decision-making processes, policy research84and effects and treatments of neglect -- all by posing the traditional, then thecritical thought analyses. From this she reasons,... knowledge about neglect is currently limited to a small area ofstudy which is characterized as the observable phenomenon ofneglect. The current knowledge base presents neglect as a wide-spread phenomenon in our society, characterized by the failure ofparents to provide for the needs of their children. Neglectingparents are actually mothers; they are poor; frequently single andhave more than the average number of children. Often they are"socially isolated". Dealing with neglect involves "rehabilitation" ofthe mother and restoration of the family to adequate functioning.These, in the briefest possible form, are the "facts" of neglect.(Swift, 1988, p. 64)In the literature search presented in this thesis the findings are similar. Whileecology theorists are much more likely to be critical of, and include socio-economic forces in their approach to child neglect; and while they addressissues such as institutional racism, they still accept the fundamental socialstructures and social relations as they exist (see above discussion on Ecologytheory). What this amounts to, and what Swift in essence is saying, is that atbest there can be incremental changes to the system response.Feminist theorists, and they are not a homogeneous group, use aframework to analyze child neglect that is woman-centred, positing a critique ofpatriarchy which challenges the very foundation of our social, cultural, politicaland economic order. Although some feminists rightfully criticize others who donot have a sound class and 'race' analysis (see, for example, hooks, 1984;Williams, 1989; Lorde, 1984), feminist theorizing builds a critique of patriarchyupon which the connections of 'race' and class can be integrated. This is85because the feminist epistemologies that have emerged, like postmoderntheories, "have sought to develop new paradigms of social criticism which donot rely on traditional philosophical underpinnings" (Fraser and Nicholson, 1990,p. 19). By being woman-centred and therefore presenting a non-traditionalview of social relations, feminist theory moves towards a deeper understandingof social relations overall, and the connection of gender, class, and 'race'(hooks, 1984).There are, loosely, three streams of feminist theory: liberal feminism,radical feminism, and socialist feminism. Liberal feminism accepts the currentsocial, economic and political systems. Liberal feminists locate women'soppression in the inequality of women in these systems and therefore seek"equal opportunity" for women within them. Radical feminism locates women'soppression in the sex/gender system, positing that the liberation of both womenand men rests on the transformation of that entire system. Socialist feminismdemands that gender issues be examined in their connectedness to classbecause this perspective holds that women's oppression is tied to capitalistpatriarchy and must be analyzed in relation to the political economy (Jaggar andRothenberg Struhl, 1978). Within these streams there may be an identificationby lesbian separatists and women of Colour, although whether or how thesemultiple locations can accomodate identity politics is a matter of debate.Dorothy Smith (1985) argues that to take a radical feminist perspective,one in which gender is solely looked at in relation to the dominance of men and86the oppression of women, "is to inhibit analysis and understanding of thegender-saturated character of social relations by sectioning off those involvingwomen ... gender relations are an integral constituent of the social organizationof class" (pp. 2-3).On the other hand, the writings of radical feminist Catharine MacKinnon(1989) shed light on how sexuality as a social sphere of male power gives riseto stereotype images of women which permeate every facet of life:... the feminine stereotype exposed "woman" as a socialconstruction. Contemporary industrial society's version of her isdocile soft, passive, nurturant, vulnerable, weak, narcissistic,childlike, incompetent, masochistic, and domestic, made forchildcare, home care, and husband care ... Women who resist orfail ... are considered less female, lesser women (p. 109).Rosaline Delmar (1986) talks about this fragmenation of contemporary feminismas a "sclerosis of the movement, segments of which have become separatedfrom and hardened against each other" (p. 9). The propensity of whitefeminists over the past decades to maintain a racist (and often classist)perspective, that is, to speak about their experiences as if they were theexperiences of all women, has been a major factor in alienating women withinand outside the feminist movement. Audre Lorde identifies herself as a Blacklesbian feminist socialist mother of two. In speaking about women respondingto racism, Lorde (1984) says, "Women responding to racism means womenresponding to anger; the anger of exclusion, of unquestioned privilege, of racialdistortions, of silence, ill-use, stereotyping, defensiveness, misnaming, betrayal,and co-optation" (p. 124).87The position held in this thesis is that an analysis of child neglect utilizingan integration of feminist perspectives gives the site of women's experience inthe everyday world. I strive for an "integrative feminist" approach (McCannell,1993) so that I will include rather than exclude any woman's experience. Theexploration of child neglect from a site outside women's experience, on theother hand, is the norm in the mainstream world of social policy development.Fiona Williams (1989) gives a compelling account in her book, Social Policy: A Critical Introduction, of the failure of policy analysts to incorporategender and 'race' as central issues in social welfare. She states that there hasbeen:1. failure to acknowledge experiences and struggles of women andBlack people over welfare provision2. failure to account for racism and sexism in the provision of statewelfare3. failure to give recognition to work which does attempt to analyzethe relationship between women and Black people in the provisionof state welfare4. failure to work out a progressive welfare strategy whichincorporates the needs and demands which emerge from suchstrategies and analyses (Williams, 1989, Introduction xi)"...that is why", continues Williams, "it is not enough merely to defend, orpropose a strategy based upon the post-war welfare state with itspredominantly white, male forms of full employment, universalism andegalitarianism" (p. xvi).88Mary Russell (1984) states that feminist theory is an essential frameworkfor understanding women's behavior and "a necessary foundation for thedevelopment of a comprehensive and effective counseling approach to women... Feminist theory presents a view of womanhood that is contradictory to theprevailing perspective, and it therefore sees social and institutional changes asurgent necessities" (p. 12). In making change, or recreating relations, theremust be equality in terms of gender. This principle is posed by Dominelli andMcLeod (1989), and they go on to say,In keeping with this, a feminist stance endorses egalitarianismacross all social dimensions. Therefore, feminists are also aginstother social divisions which reflect dominance and subordinatesuch as race, class, heterosexism, ageism, and 'ablebodiedism'.(p. 2)In looking at child neglect through feminist lens, Karen Swift (1991) presentstwo themes she sees as central to the issue. The first is the gender-baseddivision of labour which accords the care of children in the home environmentto women. It gets at the causation of child neglect, and will be discussed here.The second theme is the historical relationship between the family and the statewhereby the state is accorded the power to legislate child protection guidelinesand enforcements to ensure minimum standards of care (Swift, 1991). Thistheme of state and family relations will be addressed in Chapter six.The division of labour is an ideological concept that has becomeentrenched in our society (see Chapter four for a discussion). The divisionwhich accords the care of children to their mothers is so pervasive, so "natural"89that when professionals and others speak of neglectful "parents" what isactually meant is neglectful "mothers". Even when husband/father is present,mother is the focus of investigation and treatment (Polansky, DeSaix andSharlin, 1973). Paula Caplan (1989), in Don't Blame Mother, speaks of a pressrelease that cited researchers having produced a profile of abusive "parents"when they only studied one hundred mothers. Fowler and Stockford (1979), ina review of reported abuse cases in England state:There is an underlying assumption in much of the literature ... thatthe person who is responsible for the child's injuries, even if shehas not actually inflicted them, is the child's mother. Thisassumption is often disguised by apparently neutral references to...'the family' but careful reading will usually reveal ... that theperson who is responsible, and in particular the one for whomtherapeutic techniques are designed, is female (p. 299) [emphasisadded].In their examination of recent trends in child abuse policy and practice inBritain, Parton and Parton (1989) reiterate what was found by Fowler andStockford. Parton and Parton (1989) note that issues related to gender, race,social class and age are not addressed seriously in child protection. The impactof gender relations and oppression, they say, are ignored and this is mostobvious in the area of child sexual abuse:Here the main (male) stream literature focuses on the so-calledpathological family/male abuser, failing to recognise the linksbetween men's general sexual violence and sexuality, men'sdomination of women and children with child sexual abuse.Furthermore, the responsibility for protecting children from men'ssexual violence is primarily viewed as the responsibility of themother rather than that of the man. (p. 42)90Parton and Parton acknowledge that mothers do have a crucial role inprotecting children from certain men's sexuality and they note that many do sodespite the fact that it places them in physical and economic jeopardy. Andthey note also that what the literature fails to acknowledge is that women areprimarily responsible for children. The "parents" or "families" in the literatureare really denoting "mothers". The assumption is that mothers and mothersalone are responsible for their children and for their children's outcomes,regardless of their poverty or their own physical or emotional abuse. Partonand Parton cite the Carlile Report (London Borough of Greenwich, 1987) as anexample of how the system makes women culpable:... in its judgement of Pauline Carlile's role in Kimberley's , herdaughter's, death, [the Carlile Report] attaches as much blame tothe mother for failing to protect Kimberley as to Nigel Hall. (Hewas sentenced to life imprisonment for Kimberley's murder). Mrs.Carlile was, however, also held responsible for his violence as shewas viewed as being 'fatally attracted to violent cohabitees'. Thisnot only perpetuates the pernicious myth that battered womenenjoy being hit but minimises the issue of men's violence, a majorprecipitating context of child abuse (Starke and Flitcraft, 1985).(Parton and Parton, 1989, p. 43)That blaming mother is connected to the division of labour is made clearer byAnn DaIly (1982) in her book, Inventing Motherhood, The Consequences of anIdeal. The following is from her discussion on the implications of the settingapart of children from the modern world of work:What is not usually stressed, discussed or even realized is that theseparation of children from the working world has meant thesegregation of their mothers ... What a child 'needs', or whatsociety 'needs' for its children, are laid down and mothers areexpected both to comply and to be fulfilled in so doing (p. 106)91Gillian Pascall (1986), speaks about the implications of the division of labour formother and child: "Woman as carer, man as provider, children's emotionalneeds met by the one, economic needs met by the other: the image has nearsymmetry. Child poverty owes something to the failures of this image in reality... the segregation of emotional and economic support between two personsmakes a fragile context for children" (p. 221).Helen Levine and Alma Estable (1981) remind us of the "romanticpedestal of motherhood" and how it is used to mask a double standard."Hiding behind the mystique of motherlove and family, society forces women toaccept a less than human life contract. Although exploitation and alienation onthe job is generally considered a serious social issue, the alienation andexploitation of mothers is in general ignored, denied or linked with individualpathology" (p. 49). Barrett and McIntosh (1982) reiterate this point and explainthat the isolation of the private family and lack of outside support in whichmotherhood becomes a burden is "also a major means by which womenbecome trapped in the home" (p.62).The dangers that lurk behind the mystique of motherlove, theconsequences of alienation and exploitation, are dealt with by Sandra Knight(1992) in her examination of post partum depression experienced by womenliving in Vancouver, B.C. Knight says that theories of causation range frombiophysical to psychodynamic to psychosocial, yet because "we cannotseparate our physical self from our emotional self from our social self", an92integrated approach is essential (p. 18). Knight found that deprivation ofmothers is central to the experience of depression in mothers (p. 19).Ann Daily (1982) also has explored in depth the tenuous ideal ofmotherlove. She points out that it is only recently that the majority of womenhave had to bring up children by themselves:Their husbands are away at work all day and hardly see thechildren except weekends. They have no domestic help. There islittle or no community life or life on the street. They are likely tohave little or no everyday contact with their own families. Comingfrom small families themselves they have probably had little ...experience in caring for them ... Mothers have no respite (p. 9).It wasn't until after the second world war that middle and upper class women --"and even women further down the social scale" -- began the continuous careof their children. For millions of women, having nannies and other "help"contributed to the propagation of the idealization of motherhood. Daily explainsthat children brought up by nannies tend to idealize their mothers. "They seeher from afar and think how wonderful it would be if they could be looked afterby her" (p. 101). But when women were actually in the thick of caring forchildren virtually around the clock (and even women in two-parent families are"single" parents when the other parent does not equally share the labour ofhome and children), a dilemma was faced: "she had discovered that rearingchildren was not easy at all ... The only thing for many mothers to do ... was toidealize it still further or else have a nervous breakdown" (p. 102)."Nervous breakdown" is a phrase not often used these days. Insteadpsychologists and doctors label behavior once described as "nervous" as93reactive depression, anxiety, psychosis, or apathy-futility syndrome and so forth(For an example of such labelling, see HaIly, Polansky and Polansky, 1980).From the literature, the causal attribtution that emerges in relation to women'sability, or lack of ability, to sustain the burden of motherhood is individualpathology. This has been named within the psychodynamic causations of childneglect and has been found in the literature to take two forms: a deficiency ofmaternalism or a personality disorder such as depression.Deficiency of maternalism will at this point be addressed in a briefdiscussion of the psychological theories of male and female development inrelation to motherhood and family. It is not the purpose of this thesis toexamine psychosocial development thoroughly but the concept of "goodmother" and "bad mother" is inherent to the psychodynamic causations of childneglect. In For Her Own Good, Ehrenreich and English (1978) examinemotherhood as pathology and document how mothers have come to bescrutinized for deficiencies:The emphasis on pathology reinforced the child-raising experts'heroic image of themselves as public health crusaders ... In theperiod of scientific motherhood the challenge to child-raisingexperts had been to inform the maternal intellect. Now thechallenge was to probe the maternal subsonscious, searching forthe neuroses which could infect a generation of children with thegerms of mental illness (p. 204).A well-known study in child development is that of Bowlby (1952) on maternaldeprivation. His conclusions influenced child-rearing experts for decades.Ehrenreich and English (1978) see his work as humanitarian, after all he was94researching the needs of war orphans. But as these authors point out, Bowlby"leaped beyond his data base to the child in the home. His conclusions implythat the dire consequences of maternal deprivation can occur wherever therewas less than singlehanded, full-time provision of maternal attention" (p. 207).Although this is not a prevalent belief today with so many mothers in theworkforce, variations on this theme still guide attitudes about women as goodmothers or bad mothers. What is not stressed when people talk of deprivationis the deprivation of mothers.Kathryn McCannell and Barbara Herringer (1990) reclaim women's realityby looking at maternal deprivation quite differently than did Bowlby (1952) orRutter (1981). "From a feminist perspective, maternal deprivation can be usedto describe the feelings of loss and grief a new mother may experience as shegives up some old roles to assume this demanding new one, or it may reflecther own hunger for nurturance" (p. 58).Edwin Schur (1983), in discussing deviation and women, finds that"norms relating to motherhood further uphold and strengthen the maternityideal" and that "conceptions of the 'unfit' mother also reflect the dominantcultural tendency always to place the female in the wrong. The labeling ofmales as 'unfit fathers' is no more common than the designation of them as'unwed fathers" (p. 88). Gillian Dailey (1988) argues along these same lineswhen she distinguishes between "caring for" (the tasks of tending to anotherperson) and "caring about" (feelings for another person). Dailey points out that95it is in motherhood where these two processes are seen to be integrated andnatural and indissolubly linked. Mothers who go against the norm and separatethese two functions are considered deviant.In building theory of women's labour, Hilary Rose (1986) refers to the thethree kinds of caring distinguished by Kari Waerness:* the mutual caring reciprocally exchanged between equals* enforced caring extracted, above all, from the woman* caring for dependents (who by age or disability need help to carefor themselves)Rose asks the question, "Under what conditions do women freely care andunder what conditions is caring extracted from them?" (p. 169). Rose thenexplains that caring is a form of labour and like other labour, "existspredominantly in its alienated form". Labour in unalienated form must beunderstood to be located within the alienated. That is why "work can on oneoccasion offer great satisfaction and on another be the site of tremendouslyhostile and painful feelings, in which the cared for person confronts the carer asa hostile object" (p. 169). It is in this way that Rich (1979) notes ambivalenceto be the hallmark of motherhood: there is both anger and tenderness.When child neglect is not understood to be the consequence of a weaveof extracted labour that contains within it moments of labour in unalienatedform, mothers are considered pathologic. Their children in all likelihood will beapprehended. Authorities may argue that apprehension is the least detrimentalalternative if the child is assessed at risk but the impact of such separation on96mothers and their children is nonetheless traumatic (see Steinhauer, 1991, for areview of literature of foster care and sequelae in children separated from theirmothers).There is little available information on the needs of mothers with childrenin care (Egan and Marshall, 1990). The literature on parents who have hadtheir children apprehended originates in England where a national organizationcalled Family Rights Group oversees a network of self-help groups catering toparents and relatives who have children in care (Tunnard, 1989).The notion that parents have unmet needs related to the emotionaldistress of having their children apprehended is confirmed in a study on groupwork with similar parents in England (Gibbs and Thorpe, 1975). Parents whohave their children in state care view themselves as failures and feeloverwhelmed by feelings of loss, anger, guilt, frustration, and isolation; it is ashameful experience (Tunnard, 1989; Jenkins, 1981). In fact, the lossexperienced by parents over the apprehension of their child can be "completelyparalyzing".The debilitating effects on mothers (and fathers) as a result of theirchildren going into care is addressed by Steinhauer (1991). He suggests that inthe instances where a child wishes to be with the mother but where it wouldplace the child at risk because of the mother's inability to care for the child,that the parenting be shared with the foster mother. Both he and Wilkinson(1986) discuss the problems with the current foster care system where rivalry97exists with social workers, foster parents and biological parents that ofteninterferes with this ideal. Steinhauer cites evidence from experimental studieswhich shows that children who have on-going contact with their biologicalparents do best in long-term foster care.The barriers to shared parenting discussed above are situated in thehistorical and social ideology of motherhood; what women should be andshouldn't be. Paula Caplan (1989) raises the issue of the darker side of womenthat is feared and portrayed in fairy tales. The thought of mothers abusing theirchildren "comes as a surprise to people who think of mothers in idealized termsas the 'Angel in the House'. But it fits the darker, cultural stereotype aboutmothers: that they are 'Wicked Witches', unable or unwilling to control theirunlimited rages" (Caplan, 1989, p. 49).As Sondra Farganis quotes, "psychologists have demonstratedunequivocally that the very fact of being mothered by a woman generates inmen conflicts over masculinity, a psychology of male dominance, and a need tobe superior to women" (Chodorow, 1978, as cited in Farganis, 1986, p. 98).Farganis suggests that this is what Dinnerstein (1976) means when she sayswe "fear the will of women, the fear of becoming once again ... as helpless asone was when one was an infant ..." (Farganis, 1986, p. 100).If being likened to a wicked witch is one branch of being a bad mother,the other branch is to fit the profile of a passive, depressed wretch: the apathy-futility syndrome. Barrett and McIntosh (1982) lead up to the discussion of98"depression" in women by examining the day to day life of a mother/housewife."The daily regime in the prison is not the drama of violence of rape, it is longhours of working banged up in a solitary cell ... all in isolation ... [but] it is notthe character of the household tasks themselves that is oppressive, but thesolitary, continuing and unrelieved nature of the multiplicity of householdresponsibilities" (p. 58). They hold that statistics find more women than menare treated for depressive and neurotic mental illnesses. It is not thathousework per se leads to depression. Brown and Harris (1978) explain inSocial Origins of Depression their findings that although there is a commonnotion that middle-and upper-class women have more depression: "systematicepidemiological research gives no support ... lower-class groups have a higherrate of depression" (pp. 150-151). Further, they emphasized that "there was no class difference in risk of developing depression among women without children" (p. 153) [their emphasis]. The researchers said that "... risk ofdepression (that is, incidence of onset cases) is related to class only amongwomen with children" (p. 168).In their discussion of depression in women, Hanmer and Statham (1988)warn that "To locate the problem of mothering solely in the social isolation ofmothers, or in the separation of mothers from their children, neatly sidesteps acloser look at the complex interpenetration of the strands that make up theinstitution of motherhood as a whole. The problems become personalized" (p.53). Personalizing problems maintains the attitude of blaming the victim and99assuming no fault in the family structure itself or the ruling relations thatmaintain gender hegemony. Above all, the idealization of motherhood is keptexempt from study. That is why an understanding of the labour conditionsunder which women live is so important (for an analysis of domestic labour, seeChapter four). Ann Oakley (1980) echoes this sentiment in her discourse onmotherhood. In the context of examining pathology in mothers, she says that... the hormonal interpretation is attractive because it suggeststhat normal mothers are basically suspended in their state ofnormality by nature; that is, most of the time they're happybecause their hormones engender natural maternal feelings, but ifthey're not happy it's because their hormones have let them down.This 'unreliable machine' model ... makes sure that mothers'attitudes and reactions are not seen as influenced by the social andeconomic conditions in which motherhood occurs (p. 89).Kott Washburne (1983) uses a feminist framework to look at child abuse andneglect and says thatfeminists have recognized that women are on occasion violenttoward men and understand that violence as the result of societaland interpersonal pressures on women. Women's violence towardchildren needs to be recognized and discussed in the samecontext. Women's abuse of children stems directly from their ownoppression in society and within the family. Women are expectedto be the major caretakers of children, yet have few supports forthat task ... (p. 291).Deborah Anna Leupnitz (1988), a feminist therapist, makes the sameconnection. In addressing the dominance of husbands over wives, she cites acase in which a battered wife who also battered one of her children had to haveher abusive husband's consent for her to have a tubal ligation. That theabusive father who abandoned his wife and six children could still have the100power to decide what the woman could do with her body was lost on twotherapists whose case this was. Luepnitz says,Because their view is blind to social history... they fail to see thelink between this woman's inability to preside over her ownphysical functions and the criminal attacks on the child's body.The difference between the two acts is that the first is sanctionedby law and the second is not. The link between them is that bothacts are part of a long tradition of socially defining women andchildren as property of husbands and fathers (p. 73).Dominelli and McLeod (1989) talk about how sometimes women areperpetrators of violence. Women's violence to children, if analyzed withinfeminist framing,amounts to women, yet again, being under the constraints ofsustaining and reproducing patriarchal relations as part of theprocess of socialising children. Given the way in which thelegitimation of authority through the use of physical force runsthroughout our society it is not surprising that women employ suchan approach as a 'normal' part of the way in which they bring upchildren. (p. 99)In taking into consideration the working conditions of women -- raising children,keeping house, responsibility for the family members' emotional state, oftenworking at wage-labour jobs -- it begs the question, who nurtures the nurturer?(McCannell, 1986). How are we indoctrinated into perpetuating such lives?Research conducted recently in Canada by feminist Marge Rietsma-Street(1991) explores the unmet needs of women, and examines the power relationsof our society which ensures that women will assume motherhood for better,for worse; for richer, for poorer. The study done by Rietsma-Street centres on101how women as girls learn to care, and how they are policed to care intoadulthood. Her research finds that girls learn three lessons of caring:(1) women, whether young or old, are the major providers of the loveand labour that is caring;(2) young women are expected to restrict caring for themselves topersonal appearance and demeanour; and(3)^boyfriends become the special objects of caring. (Reitsma-Street,1991, p. 121)Major costs are incurred for this caring: first, girls seriously restrict thedevelopment of their own interests and independence; secondly, a girl learns totake care of her physical appearance, to look nice and be nice but at the cost oflearning about the needs of her body: sexual assault, unwanted pregnancy,inadequate birth control, abortions; and the third cost girls pay is the risk ofpoverty and dependence (p. 121-122).In asking why girls continue to pay the costs of economic and physicalvulnerability, Reitsma-Smith raises the notion of policing: "girls are more thanencouraged and socialized to learn their lessons of caring and to pay theattendant costs; rather, they are policed to learn their lessons" (p. 123).In Women's Caring Baines, Evans and Neysmith (1991) edit a book withtopics ranging from the historical relations of caring, through the life cycle ofcaring, to caring and disadvantage. The works of Karen Swift and MargeReitsma-Street are from this book. What is raised by authors such as Swift andReitsma-Street is the usefulness of an analysis of caring from the site ofwomen's everyday experiences. However obvious it is that there would be a102difference in understanding an event depending on whether you are aparticipant in that event or merely an observer, men have insisted upon naming,defining, and explaining events in women's lives from the male perspective. Itis only with feminist discourse that the obvious is stated.In seeking a more precise definition of power, Deborah Anna Luepnitz(1988) suggests we might call it "the ability to categorize or define things...or,as Nietzsche said, it is the power to name things" (p. 162). What feministtheory and critique accomplish is to name women's experiences as they live theexperiences, from their perspective.What comes to light in this examination of the theories of causation ofchild neglect, is that discourse of theory very much reflects ideology.Specifically, this chapter has shown that psychodynamic theory places theetiology of neglect in the pathology of the mother. I also point out how ecologytheory, in its attempts to contextualize child neglect, often falls short of anunderstanding of gender, 'race', and class relations. This is because its focus ison PERSON/ENVIRONMENT which does not necessarily take into account therelations of ruling. Feminist theories specifically get at the relations of rulingthrough a framework which looks at the historical, social, and political contextof child neglect. The study will now turn to the examination of social welfarepolicy that places child neglect within a legal framework. Although, as BettyCarter (1989) points out, the profession of social work guides child welfare inCanada, it is "also influenced greatly by the medical and legal professions" and"the nature of its mandated service ties it closely to the state and dominantideology" (p. 79).103104CHAPTER SIXCHILD WELFARE POLICYKaren Swift (1991) determines that two themes are central tounderstanding child neglect. The first theme, the gender-based division ofsocietal labour which accords the care of children in the home to women, hasbeen discussed in Chapters four and five. The second theme put forward bySwift, and which is discussed in this chapter, is the historical relationshipbetween the family and the state. In essence, as a result of that historicalrelationship, the state, as parens patriae (parent of the nation), is accorded thepower to legislate child protection guidelines and enforcements to ensureminimum standards of care (Swift, 1991).To understand how the state came to hold power over the family, theB.C. child protection legislation has to be placed in an historical and socialcontext. This begins with an historical account of state response to povertybecause, as has been evidenced in preceding chapters, the problem of childneglect is also correlated with issues of poverty. The historical perspectiveserves to (1) reflect the attitudes held towards the poor which have influencedsocial welfare policy, and (2) shows how societal response to child neglect isclosely connected to societal response to poverty.105Historical Perspective of Child NeglectThe transition from feudalism to capitalism caused many upsets to thepopulations of Europe. The development of capitalism, as noted by Piven andCloward (1974), has beenmarked by periods of cataclysmic change in the market, the mainsources being depression and rapid modernization. Depressionsmean that the regulatory structure of the market simply collapses... By contrast, during periods of modernization ... portions of thelaboring population may be rendered obsolete ... Moreover, massunemployment that persists ... diminishes the capacity of otherinstitutions to bind and constrain people (p. 26-27).Piven and Cloward note that western relief systems originated with theseupheavals beginning in the sixteenth century. The origins of charity rested withchurches in their two-prong approach to poverty: having compassion for thosein need while holding that poverty was divine punishment for moral failings. Asthousands of starving people at different times rose in protest, the state had tointervene to control insurrection. State relief and public attitude was notcompassionate. As Ben Carniol (1987) states,It was as if needy people had committed a crime. English law in1531, certainly, was blunt about what would happen to theunemployed. A person considered to be one of society's ill-begotten group of 'idle poor, ruffelers, sturdy vagabonds andvaliant beggars' was 'to be tied to the end of a cart naked and tobe beaten ... At the same time that brutality was inflicted onjobless men women were persecuted for being suspected ofwitchcraft. The accusation was focused mainly on spinsters andwidows ... who might try to achieve a degree of personalindependence (p. 18).106From that period into the nineteenth century, the poor relief system became amajor institution in English life. In Canada, governments imported the traditionsof France and England:While Quebec's government left it to the Catholic church toprovide assistance and education to the poor, the colonialadministration in the Maritimes saw to the construction of aworkhouse in 1759... (Carniol, 1987, p. 19)Jails were filled with the homeless and the poor and paupers in parts of EnglishCanada were boarded out to those who charged the municipality the least(Carniol, 1987).In Canada, towards the turn of the century, a conjunction of conditionsgave rise to the social reform movement. Thousands of children had been sentto Canada from the United Kingdom and placed as apprentices or work hands.Many of the placements did not work out and the children drifted to urbancentres, their homelessness a visible problem (Swift, 1991). The processes ofindustrialization, as noted above by Piven and Cloward (1974), producedabysmal living situations for many Canadians. Integration of immigrants,unemployment, infant mortality, poor sanitation and alcohol compoundedproblems (Baines, 1991).First Nations people took a heavy toll as industrialization, and resourcedevelopment swept the country. "Police forces were also used against theinstitutions of indigenous people -- who were portrayed as savages lacking inculture and possessing no worthy structures of their own in the first place"(Carniol, 1987, p. 26).107On the prairies, white settlers, Metis and Indians petitioned Ottawa forresolution to fears about the lands acts. Maria Campbell (1973), in hereloquent portrayal of "Halfbreed" ancestors, notes that "they were squatterswith no title to the land they lived on. They wanted assurance from Ottawa oftheir right to keep the land before the incoming white settlers encroached onthem by using homestead laws" (p. 10). The Red River Rebellion of 1869 wasabout land and white settler prejudice. The Riel Rebellion began with the DuckLake "victory for the Halfbreeds" but ended with a violent governmentretaliation, as described by Maria Campbell (1973): "Within a month eightthousand troops, five hundred NWMP and white volunteers from throughout theTerritories, plus a Gatling gun, arrived to stop Riel, Dumont and one hundredand fifty Halfbreeds" (p.11).Ben Carniol offered this example of the intervention by governments andsuppression of First Nations structures:The Iroquois (as they were known by the French) ... or theHaudenosaunee (People of the Longhouse, as they calledthemselves) have a formalized constitution ... It provides for ademocratic system in which each extended family selects a seniorfemale ... and male leader ... A code of laws generally expressed inpositive admonitions rather than negative prohibitions, governsboth official and civil behavior ... The Canadian governmentsuppressed the Haudenosaunee government by jailing its leadersand refusing to give it official recognition. (House of CommonsSpecial Committee on Indian Self-Government, 1985, cited inCarniol, 1974, p. 26)When the Euro-descent people in power accorded indigenous groups anexistence of apartheid, they abrogated the rights of indigenous women. Prior to108the colonists' projection of a subordinate role for women, Iroquois women helda position of power. Judith Brown (1975) notes:Iroquois matrons were able to make available or withold food formeetings of the Council and for war parties, for the observance ofreligious festivals and for the daily meals of the household. Theseeconomic realities were institutionalized in the matrons' power tonominate Council Elders and to influence Council decisions. Theyhad a voice in the conduct of war and the establishment oftreaties. They elected "keepers of the faith" and served in thatcapacity. (pp. 250-251)In the western most region, the first consolidated Indian Act that applied toB.C. was in 1876. Prior to B.C.'s entry into Confederation in 1871, the colonialgovernments of B.C. and Vancouver Island had passed various laws concerningIndians. Decimating diseases brought in by Europeans brought suffering anddeath to thousands of indigenous people. "Of the 6,693 Haidas alive in 1840,only about 600 were left by the turn of the century" (Clague, Dill, Seebaran andWharf, 1984). The Potlatch law of 1884 prohibited First Nations people fromgathering in numbers and living their traditions (Wyatt, 1982). The prohibitionremained in effect to 1952.^In response to social welfare, B.C. had takenlittle action by the late eighteen hundreds. The Municipalities Act made it lawto provide for the poor and destitute, and the YMCA, among other charitableorganizations, began their services. As Clague et al., (1984) explain, "Thefunction of the government was to protect property, facilitate the investmentflow through grants of timber and mining rights, endow the railways, andrestrict and control unions as much as possible" (p. 4).109It was noted earlier that the conjunction of social and economicconditions gave rise to the social reform movement. Swift (1991) explains thatthe social reform movement was instrumental in promoting legislation. Thedoctrine of parens patriae, meaning parent of the nation, was codified in Englishlaw and later became part of the American and Canadian legal structures associal reformers pressured governments to respond to need.Women played a key role in the social reform movement. Thedevelopments of the movement are first touched upon in this study in thechapter dealing with motherhood and the family, and it has been noted thatmiddle and upper class women were the agents of doctors and professionals inthe education of poor women on how to mother. That wave of public maternalcaring is referred to as maternal feminism by Carol Baines (1991) and she notesthat although it was a narrow and conservative view of women's caring role, itdid allow women to enter public life, albeit subordinate to male philanthropistsand clergy. The affluence and leisure time of these women spurred theestablishment of women's organizations and clubs:It was not surprising that these women, well schooled in theimportance of Christian stewardship, responded to the troubles oftheir working-class sisters. An urban and economic transformation,a demand for a response to the problems facing an industrialsociety, and a changing conception of what women were able todo all contributed to the shaping of new institutions and laid thegroundwork for the welfare state (Baines, 1991, pp. 40-41).In B.C., charitable and church organizations called for an Act which wouldregulate remedial child protection and deal with juvenile delinquency. In 1901,110the B.C. Infants Act, based on the common law concept of parens patriae, waspassed. "The Infants Act provided for the legal transfer of guardianship oforphaned or neglected children to the state. The Children's Aid Society was toprovide for their care" (Clague et al., 1984, p. 6).The Infants Act of 1901 allowed the courts tocommit children to care for: begging in streets; sleeping outdoorsand in barns, etc.; associating with drunkards and thieves; beingorphaned or deserted; being found guilty of petty crimes; andbeing abused to the point where life was at risk. (Callahan andWharf, 1982)It must be noted that at this time women could not vote. Women, with theexception of First Nations women that is, were declared legally "persons" underthe terms of the British North America Act in the fall of 1929. Federally, thismeant the vote, yet at the provincial level it took another twenty years for allprovinces to recognize enfranchisement for women. First Nations women andmen, however, were excluded in this process of recognition of personhood. Itwasn't until the sixties that such recognition was made. This meant that fordecades, all women saw legislation put into place that affected themselves andtheir children and they were unable to have a voice in matters.It is also noted by Clague et al., (1984) that the prevailing thought at thetime was that poor people were entirely responsible for their conditions andwhen children had to be taken into care it was not due to any failing on the partof the social order. In the late nineteenth and ealy twentieth centuries, "socialreformers and moralists, concerned to establish new standards of public111decorum and personal discipline in canadian society, made a public issue of themanner in which some families brought up their children ... [and they] definedthe state of delinquency elastically -- sometimes by acts, often by attitudes,and most commonly by tendencies" (Houston, 1982, p. 132). It is noted thatphrases from statements of 1902-03 sound very much like statements fromcontemporary policy:The Children's Aid Society stands first and last for the rights ofchildren. It is authorized to investigate all cases of neglect,destitution and cruelty, to ameliorate and better their homesurroundings when practical.. .only when every effort in the homefails is the matter brought to the courts for adjudication. (1902-03quotation from the Children's Aid Society, in Clague et al., 1984,P. 7)In the United States, child welfare agencies also attributed family violence toindividual and moral failings. Linda Gordon (1990) bases the followingstatements on her analysis of theories of social control, a concept originatingwith E. A. Ross at the turn of the century:These [agencies] blamed the problem of family violence on thedepravity, immorality, and drunkenness of individuals, which theyoften traced to the innate inferiority of the immigrants, whoconstituted the great bulk of their targets. By the early twentiethcentury, the [agencies] took on a more ambitious task, hoping notmerely to cure family pathology but also to reform family life andchild raising. Describing the change slightly differently, in thenineteenth century, child protection agents saw themselves asparalegal, punishing specific offenses, protecting children fromspecific dangers; in the early twentieth century, they tried tosupervise and direct the family lives of those considered deviant (p.179).The legislation enacted in response to the social reform movement "articulatedthe principle of the state's right to evaluate the suitability of a child's112environment and allow for the removal of a child from that environment if it isdeemed to be in the child's interests" (Swift, 1991, P. 237). What is crucial tothe understanding of child protection law is that the powers invested in thestate to protect children were influenced by the charitable and moralistic socialreform ideology, and the legislation was enacted at a time when women werewithout the vote. Without a say in who was elected to enact legislation,women were clearly made subordinate to men's judgment (McCannel!, 1993).This is not to say that even if women had the vote, all women would have thevote (First Nations men and women were not allowed to vote federally until1960), nor would it guarantee women's voices would be heard. The pointbeing made is that men, white men, made decisions that concerned all women.At the same time that social policy was being developed around issues ofchild protection, acts of legislation were being introduced in response tocapitalism's processes: union demands for a family wage and compensation forsuch things as accidents and unemployment (Mink, 1990; Nelson, 1990).Paralleling the division of labour between home and workplace, the publicpolicies being implemented from the turn of the century onwards diverged intobasically two streams. "Benefits devised for mostly male wage workers werestrongly linked to welfare capitalism and scientific management, while thosedevised for a select group of mothers were linked to the poor law tradition"(Nelson, 1990, p. 124). Although Barbara Nelson is writing about conditions inthe United States, the conditions in Canada are not so different because its113public welfare policies are rooted in Britain's welfare state, a country thatspawned the Poor Law and with historically strong labour legislation.For example, Fiona Williams (1989) notes that the British Poor Law of1834 created a system based on "less eligibility" so that no one receiving reliefwould be better off than someone working; and the element of deterrence wasinstituted in legislation insofar as acceptance of relief would be a shamingexperience.The division of labour into public and private spheres which leave womenand children dependent upon a man's wage have set women and children up tobe hardest hit with the poor law ideology that still prevails today. Williams saysthat decades ago, "All widows with only one child were required to take paidwork and not relief ... Deserted and separated wives were treated withparticular suspicion and not considered eligible for relief until after a year ofseparation or desertion ... fin the] attempts by the ... authories to shift awoman's financial dependence back on to her ... husband or another liablerelative" (p. 154). But such attitudes are not only historical. In the latter halfof the 1980s, the B.C. Ministry of Social Services implemented legislationcalling for enforced maintanance by errant husbands for mothers on incomeassistance and the requirement that all single mothers whose babies hadreached the age of six months, find jobs. Failure to abide by this legislationmeant that a mother and her children were denied benefits.114In summary, the key elements instrumental in laying the foundation forpresent day family welfare policy are: the introduction of relief to the poorsteeped in moralistic fervor; the advent of the social reform movementinfluenced by christian stewardship and familism; and the notion of parenspatriae. These have combined to entrench state intervention in the family. Andas this study has documented, not without burdening mothers and children.Williams (1989) comments that "Policies around motherhood ... illustrate thenature of a collectivism which urged state intervention whilst holding ontoindividualist explanations for social problems" (p. 157).B.C. Child Welfare Legislation The Infants Act of 1901 remained unchanged until 1968 whenamendments made to the Act required all persons to report suspectedmaltreatment of a child. New amendments also distinguished categories oftemporary and permanent wardship. This was designed to encourage plans forfamily reunification or long term foster care for permanent wards. In 1973,under a New Democratic Party government, a Royal Commission was struck toexamine shortcomings in the Act. Unfortunately, it was shelved when thegovernment changed hands in 1976. In 1979, a White Paper was produced toprovoke discussion pending change to the legislation. Over 1200 submissionswere received. The government Opposition argued that it was not evident thatthe government heeded these submissions when they produced the final draft115which was put forward for debate as Bill 45 (B.C. Legislative AssemblyDebates, 1980).The B.C. Association of Social Workers, in noting what they liked aboutthe legislation, listed as positives: the extension of protection to children under19 years; that unmanageability would no longer be an offence; and theinclusion of time limits for setting commencement of judicial proceedings(BCASW, 1980). However, both BCASW and the Social Planning and ReviewCouncil of B.C. criticized the Act for not laying out the basic rights of childrenand for not legislating government responsibility to develop and provide serviceswhich would support and strengthen families. The Act appeared moreconcerned with remedial rather than preventive actions. SPARC also pointedout that the Family and Child Service Act does not require the child to beconsulted and that this detracts from a child's integrity. Additionally, theynoted that the legislation was absent of definition of structure, responsibilities,and accountability between superintendent and delegates (SPARC, 1980).The response to Bill 45 by the Opposition began with the challenge thatthe proposed legislation was nothing more than an amendment to theProtection of Children Act because it lacked principles supporting the integrityof children and the family. MLA Rosemary Brown pointed out that except forthe title of the Act, the word "family" is never again mentioned (B.C. LegislativeAssembly Debates, 1980). In her challenge, Ms. Brown referred to Kenneth116Keniston's four principles "of reform [that] need to be incorporated in a law".Ms. Brown's point was that the legislation lacked all of these requirements:1. except for the briefest emergency period there must be a clear andconvincing showing in due process hearings where the child aswell as the parents has counsel2. there must be a strong presumption in favour of children remainingin their natural home or with relatives before a court removes achild from his or her nuclear or extended family3. children's rights that would guarantee children have their basicneeds met: health care, education, shelter, nutrition4. the right of the child to have an advocate(B.C.L.A.D., 1980, p. 4047)The Family and Child Service Act was assented to in 1980. Its statedintent was to integrate and coordinate services for children. The criticisms ofBCASW, of SPARC, and of the Opposition continue to be voiced by these samegroups and others. In the last decade native rights in the child welfare fieldhave been recognized to some extent by governemnts. Four bands in B.C.currently have control of their own child welfare, and the Ministry of SocialServices has initiated a Native Family and Child Services office in Vancouver.Provisions of the Family and Child Service ActThe Family and Child Service Act provides the statutory authority toinvestigate allegations of child abuse and neglect, and the authority to enterinto agreements with parents for the care of their children if they are unable toprovide it, either for a short term or permanently. The Act gives authority to117the Superintendent of Family and Child Services to apprehend children if theyare "in need of protection". The Act defines "in need of protection" as:(a) abused or neglected so that his (sic) safety or well being isendangered,(b) abandoned,(c) deprived of necessary care through the death, absence or disabilityof his parent,(d) deprived of necessary medical attention, or(e)^absent from his home in circumstances that endanger his safety orwell being (Section 1, B.C. F&CS Act, 1980)The provisions make it an offense not to report suspected maltreatment ofchildren (Section 7), and the Act sets a temporal framework for procedures ofapprehension and the processes of court action.Funding of child protection services is cost-shared with the federalgovernment through the Canada Assistance Plan and the child protectionlegislation is administered through the Ministry of Social Services. Districtoffices are the local sites of the ministry. The government divided the provinceinto ten regions, each currently administered by regional directors who fallunder the Deputy Minister. Area Managers oversee the district offices in eachregion. The district offices are in turn headed by supervisors.Social workers within the ministry may function or specialize inresources, adoption, special needs of children and mentally handicapped adults,and child protection. The number of district offices and social workers in eachregion, and the specialization of offices depends upon population distribution.118In the 1988 ministry reorganization, Income Assistance offices and Family andChild Services offices became separate sites in the highly populated areas,ostensibly to provide better services.The mandate of the social workers* and their caseloads may changewhenever the ministry reorganizes their service delivery system. This hashappened twice in the last three years, and a review of the Family and ChildService Act was begun in 1992 which may lead to further changes. Budgetcutbacks, beginning with the Bennett restraint measures in the early 1980'swhich altered dramatically the services provided by the ministry, continue to tiethe hands of social workers. Suggestive evidence derived from exploratorytalks with social workers and district supervisors points out that caseloads aretoo high to ensure quality service in child protection, foster care planning, andadoption. And there are not enough foster homes to accommodateapprehended children.In examining the Family and Child Service Act, I find large gaps in itsprovisions. It does not address rights ofchildren, support for mothers (andfathers), and needs of Native families. The only principle specifically highlighted*It must be noted that not all "social workers" in the ministry hold social workdegrees. A survey in 1987 found that 32% of employees in "social work"positions at the Ministry of Social Services and Housing (as it was then called) hada degree in social work. Informal information from the ministry indicates that thisnumber rose to approximately 42% over the next four years, and that by 1992,of the people hired to fill "social work" positions, 50% held social work degrees(Alcock, 1993).119in the legislation is the following statement which makes up Section 2 of theAct:In the administration and interpretation of this Act the safety andwell being of a child shall be the paramount considerations.In defense of a lack of stated principles, the Hon. Grace McCarthy stated that"the rights of children are very well spelled out in terms of protection"(B.C.L.A.D., 1980, p. 4046) and she went on to quote Justice Tom Berger whosaid in "The Social Worker", Spring 1979, thatthe law can offer a substantial measure of protection to the familyand to children by the guarantees of due process ... but the lawcannot guarantee the delivery of services to a whole category ofchildren. (B.C.L.A. Debates, August 19, 1980, p. 4046)McCarthy argued, therefore, that it was better not to issue a blanket statementof unenforceable principles.There are no legislated services to families. The F&CS Act is aimed atthe protection of children from abuse or neglect by their parents or guardians.Children in families who are having problems but are not "at risk" are notcovered in this legislation. The only guarantee offered by the Act is theprotection of children from abuse and neglect through investigation and courtprocedures once an allegation is made. Families who have money to seekprivate counselling or families with the skills to seek out private and publiclyfunded resources are at an advantage over families who are poor or who lackthe skills and time to get whatever resources are available.120When social workers investigating a case of alleged abuse or neglect findevidence of same (see Chapter two for definition and assessment procedures),they then take a course of action which may include a family service plan. Ifthe children at risk are determined safe in the family home, they may bereturned to the care of the mother after they have been apprehended. Themother may then be encouraged to enter any number of programs fundeddirectly or indirectly by the province to help her with the problem that led to theinvestigation of neglect. These programs include such services as homemakers,alcohol and drug counselling, parenting courses, and assessment and therapyfor children with special needs. With the exception of homemaker service, theservices often have waiting lists and may not be available when needed.Many families dealing with allegations of child neglect are headed bysingle mothers (Campbell, 1991). Poor mothers and children are particularlydisadvantaged because in our society, to lack money is to lack power. Andpoor families are often on welfare. This means that they are already on thereceiving end of government monitoring and inadequate income levels.Although the legislation provides for every allegation of child neglect to beinvestigated, and therefore poor people and minorities would not seem to betargeted, the evidence contradicts this feature of equity. Most of the childprotection caseloads are disproportionately poor and of Native heritage (B.C.Minstry of Social Services, 1991; Campbell, 1991).121The legislation does not acknowledge economic hardship as a risk factor.This results in ministry intervention being targeted often at the mother'sparenting abilities, rather than at resource acquisition. Dale and Foster (1986)note that social workers who are powerless to give needed resources todeprived clients as an intervention have to "attempt to make individual womenmore effective carers rather than providing them with any alternative caringservices or resources" (p. 101).What social workers think about the roles of family members and whatsocial workers believe constitutes adequate care of children is based not onlyon professional training, research findings, and practice. Social workers alsobring to child welfare practice their personal opinions which are influenced bysocialization, contemporary norms, and the ideology underpinning socialrelations (Comley, 1989). In her discussion of ethical dilemmas in social workpractice, Margaret Rhodes (1986) reminds us that examining reality without apoint of view has come to be seen as an impossible goal, even in science.Thus, "objectivity" is always partial. It is in this same vein that child welfarepolicy is understood as a product of society's beliefs and values. Policyconstraints on social work practice are founded in the ideological basis of thatpolicy.The type of support that child protection social workers are able to giveis limited by the legislation. They themselves cannot engage in assessment andcounselling beyond a prescibed investigation and the child-in-care or family122services planning processes. Hence, several authors conclude that children,mothers and social workers are set up by the legislation to be adversaries (seeSidel, 1986; Pascal!, 1986; Dale and Foster, 1986; and Callahan and Attridge,1990). Moreover, children are not appointed advocates except in extremecases where a mother may battle years for the return of custody of herchildren, and the mother is not appointed a social worker or advocate who willsupport her through the child protection process.Another example of how the legislation interfaces social work practice isin the legislated "intervention" necessary in the course of investigating andresponding to child neglect. As an action, intervention is a form of coercionand one which "refers not only to acts which protect or serve the best interestsof the persons coerced but to acts which although they may violate theinterests of one person protect others in society ..." (Rhodes, 1986, p. 106).Accepting the partiality of the legislation and social work practice, it wouldfollow that child welfare administrators and social workers can bring all ofsociety's misogynist and sexist attitudes to the act of intervention. Althoughthe child welfare service response system has changed over the years withpractitioners' growing awareness of just how dangerous the family can be towomen and children, changes in policy have been geared more towards costeffectiveness, and remain informed by ideological notions of womens' rolewithin the family.123In the administration of the legislation, there is at least one update ofchange each month received by holders of the policy manual. These updateshave included changes such as amendments to accommodate new legislation;for example, the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act. This Act was put intoplace to get errant fathers to provide financial support. If a mother does notagree to give information of her ex's whereabouts, she is threatened with beingcut off from benefits. As well, every time there is a reorganization of theministry service delivery, policy is changed to accommodate internal systemicchange.If the Family and Child Service policy has also changed over the years inreaction to changing societal attitudes about parenting and child care, it isminimal. Where once parent-teen conflict was not considered to fall within themandate of Family Services unless the child was in need of protection, there isnow leeway to counsel with families experiencing parent-teen crisis. Whereonce an investigation of child maltreatment was begun it had to finish itscourse, a new Standard prevails allowing termination of an investigation inprogress. And policy now clearly states that the preferred residence forchildren is their own family (B.C. Ministry of Social Services, 1992b). Butwhere the policy has clearly remained the same is in the view toward mothers.Comley (1989) states that "the construction of women as wives, mothers, andcarers has become internalised within the social work profession" (p. 55) and isreflected in the absolute absence in the legislation of regard for the needs of124parents. In the application of the legislation to practice, "social workers notonly continue to expect women to be good wives and mothers within thepatriarchal institution of the family, they also tend to reinforce women's role asunpaid carers ... and certain social workers still appear to believe that womenare natural carers and that they have a duty to care" (Dale and Foster, 1986, p.100). For social workers who understand the misogyny and sexismunderpinning policy, and who attempt to practise feminist social work, there isa daily confrontation with "one dilemma after another -- the ridiculously lowincome assistance rates, child protection matters where the problem is oftenpoverty, kids who are sick because they live in inadequate rooms and eatinadequate food, and on and on" (social worker speaking out in No Way ToLive, Baxter, 1988).Policy Change Child welfare policy is not necessarily written to meet the needs ofpeople. As has been pointed out in this chapter, policy is written from a baseof beliefs and values which may or may not coincide with identified needs.Policy is also written to fit the mandate of a particular government department.In their determination of departmental mandates, governments are guided bypolitical ideologies. These include notions about what constitutes goodmothering and what constitutes a family. For B.C., which has until recentlybeen governed by conservative politics, this has meant that conservative viewsof family and women's roles inform the Family and Child Service legislation and125its policy implementation (see the preceding chapters for a detailed analysis ofhistorical and prevailing views of family and motherhood). By conservative, Imean a residual approach to social problems, which is explained by MarilynCallahan (1985) in her critique of child welfare.Callahan (1985) characterizes three types of perspectives on childwelfare: institutional (social programs for support); radical (fundamentalchanges); and residual (less state intervention and crisis services only). TheFamily and Child Services Act would be classified as residual. In identifyingwhich of the perspectives may be favoured by a provincial government guidedby social democratic principles, I turned to the paper on child welfare,Protecting Our Children, Supporting Our Families (B.C. Ministry of SocialServices, 1992a).In the document, under "Rights and Responsibilities of Parents", therights are typified as either family-and-state-as-partners (mirroring theinstitutional perspective) or exclusive rights and maximum rights (much like theresidual perspective). Under the role of the state in child protection, thediscussion paper describes two of Callahan's classifications: the residual roleand the family support role (insitutional). It also discusses something called the"senior partner role" which is ambiguous but which may imply a move towardspartnerships linking families with their communities, much like the moveunderway in provincial health services where the government wants to "fsThift126more health care decisions from Victoria to local communities and regions, andinvolve the public as full partners..." (B.C. Ministry of Health, 1993).The discussion paper, which is the basis of the provincial review of theFamily and Child Service Act which got underway early in 1992, presents abalanced view of the residual and institutional perspectives (the radicalperspective is not discussed at all). There was nothing to indicate that theministry prefers one perspective over another, although it is conceivable thatthe institutional perspective would be favoured by a social democraticgovernment.On the federal level, a report has been put out recently by a senatecommittee titled, "Children in Poverty: Toward a Better Future" (1991). In theirexploration of child poverty, the committee hired consultants who analyzed thefollowing taxation benefits: family allowance, children's tax exemption/non-refundable credit, equivalent to married exemption/credit and child care expensededuction. Their findings are that "the various changes made during the latterhalf of the 'eighties have significantly altered the federal child benefits system... and that all the traditional objectives of child benefits are being jeopardizedby the changes made over the last five years" (p. 101). As a result, theconsultants offered two options from which the federal government couldchoose in order to redress the slide of child benefits, each option containingelements of current benefits but with changes in eligibility based on theconsultants' analysis.127Recommendations made by the senate committee challenge the residualapproach and are leveled at federal and provincial governments. They include:a call for a national child care policy; a fully indexed minimum wage increasedto a level equal to the Statistics Canada poverty line; all federally funded andcost-shared programs and contracts be required to use the new minimum wage;income support programs eliminate penalties now imposed when people enrollin education and training programs; and a federal system of cost-shared rentsupplements to be made directly to households who pay more than 30 percentof the income to shelter costs. The perspective of these recommendationscould be classified as institutional, while the provincial ministry's response tochild welfare to date has been residual.This chapter had provided a backgound of historical, social, and politicalforces shaping child welfare policy in B.C. This brings to light the ideologicalframework upon which policy is built, and which is articulated in childprotection discourse. I will now take the reader into the data and the analysisof child protection files of the Ministry of Social Services to see how this isevidenced in the text.128CHAPTER SEVENUNRAVELLING THE TEXTAs I noted in the methodology chapter, the research data and analysis arepresented in two parts. In this chapter, the eighteen case studies are presentedto give the reader an understanding of specific conditions found in the data,case by case. In Chapter eight I offer an analysis which uncovers emergingthemes and examines the ways in which ministry discourse mediates therelations of ruling.I want to reiterate that a Family Service file is put in the mother's nameby the ministry, even if the father of the children is present in the family unit.What also must be noted is that very little is communicated about the husbandsand fathers in the sample files, except for the single father. Although the intentof this study was to focus on the women, the absence of data about the men inthe families would yield an analysis concentrating on women regardless. Morewill be said about this in the discussion.I also want to note that ministry documents call for the notation of FirstNations status where applicable, but they do not require that the ethno-culturalbackgrounds of other women be recorded. In the following case studies, theethno-cultural backgrounds of women are unknown unless the women are FirstNations. The term used by the ministry to designate First Nations people is"native" and this term is used in the unravelling of the child protection file text.129Anne:The file on the family of the woman we call Anne contains data whichshow how Family and Child Services workers play the role of "peace keepers"when the man of the house assaults or threatens the mother. When Anne's filewas opened in 1990, she was a thirty-seven year old mother of one boy, aged2 years. She and her son were living with his father. The first report to theministry office was called in by Anne herself; she was in need of support andfinancial assistance because she left her physically abusive husband. He hadassaulted her over the weekend and she and her son had been placed by theministry Emergency Services (E.S.) in a downtown eastside hotel.July 3: She was ... having trouble providing adequate food to herson because of lack of cooking facilities. She spoke despairinglyof their relationship and of her own sense of vulnerability at somelength. We talked about support services etc. but I suspect afollow up call would be helpful. (F01 -01)Anne seems to have left for the sake of her child:Anne denies that husband hurt the child but he did recentlyattempt to choke her in the boy's presence. His [the son's]distress at seeing her harmed motivated her to leave. (F01-02)At some point after this Anne returned to her husband and then almostone year later the second report to Emergency Serivces was recorded:April 21: Anne called wanting shelter for herself and son from herhusband. I asked her to self refer to Powell Place. Approximately15 minutes later the husband calls to say that his wife is makingup stories and that it was a waste of government money to placehis wife at a hotel. In the background I could hear Anne yelling inthe background that she had been threatened with a knife. I askedCar 86 [police car with one officer and one social worker] to driveby the home and interview the family. (F01-03)130Regardless of the husband's repeated violent acts towards Anne, there isno evidence that the ministry had a concern he may abuse the child. Thequestion of his violence towards Anne was apparently not taken seriously inthis report even though Anne was clearly upset. The worker seemed to take aface value that Anne's husband was not a menace:E.S. Update, April 21: We attended at the home where Anne ...made a call to Powell Place and was accepted. We stood by tokeep the peace. Anne was distraught and not able to articulate justwhat the problem was but I gathered that there have been severalbreak-ups and as many reconciliations. Husband was not in theleast menacing and spoke mainly of the lack of communicationbetween them. The child appeared well cared for and wasboisterous and energetic. (F01-05)When the man of the house assaults and threatens the mother but doesnot present a risk to his child, ministry workers cannot stay involved with thefamily to offer support to the mother herself. In Anne's case, the biased notionthat somehow the woman is at fault when she is physically abused by the manwas also operating. The following entry infers that Anne colludes in a "volatilerelationship":This family became known after homemaking services wererequested because of mother's post partum depression by herfamily doctor. A few days previous to this Anne called E.S. in needof assistance after leaving her spouse who was being physicallyabusive. Anne had her 1 1/2 year old son with her. A FS file wasopened to monitor until they were able to get psychiatric help dueto their past life-styles, their volatile relationship and its affect ontheir child. (F01-06)Their past "life-styles" inlcuded "long and extensive history of drug useand abuse...she is addicted and is administered methadone daily" (F01-08).131Her partner was also addicted and also on methadone. Both parents said "theyare committed to keep their family together... Husband has asked for names ofagencies where he can get help to control his anger and his physical violencetowards Anne. He has not arranged for counselling to date" (F01-08).The ministry put in homemaker service three times a week for four hoursat the request of Anne's doctor. Four months after the last request by Anne forhelp, the file was closed: "Client is outside of ... catchment area. No furtherservices requested at this time" (F01-10).Out of the seventeen case files in this sample which are listed in thenames of the mothers, Anne is the only mother whose child had not gone intocare, either voluntarily through a Short Term Care Agreement or throughapprehension.132Betty:In 1989, when Betty's file was opened, she was a thirty-year-old motherof a newborn baby. The social woker at the hospital called to alert the ministrythat the baby showed some symptoms of withdrawal:November: Social worker at St. Paul's called to alert us to the case-- concerned mother may not be able to offer this child anappropriate environment. Some symptoms of withdrawal noted,although not severe. (F02-01)Betty had told the social worker that she had used alcohol and cocainethroughout pregnancy. The baby went first to Sunny Hill hospital and then to aspecialized foster home for NAS infants, infants who are born with NeonatalAbstinence Syndrome.December: Contacted again by social worker. Betty dischargedNovember 30th, called there Dec. 1 but has not been in contactsince that date. Child now manifesting some symptoms, placed onmorphine and will be going to Sunny Hill. Had spoken to maternalgrandparent -- he has grave concerns about mother's ability to lookafter child. Betty told the social worker at hospital that she hadused alcohol and cocaine throughout pregnancy. (F02-02)The six-month temporary wardship granted to the Superintendent ofFamily and Child Services was followed by permanent wardship five monthslater when the parents failed to show at court. There is no indication in thefiles of the whereabouts of Betty prior to the court date. Following the entrydated December, the next entry was dated the following summer:August: Neither parent appeared at court for permanent wardshiphearing. (F02-04)133The next year Betty gave birth to another baby, also born addicted andsent to Sunny Hill hospital for care. Betty's whereabouts were unknown onceshe left the hospital. The plan of the ministry was to get permanent wardship,which they did. The file was closed once this was accomplished.The file of Betty exemplifies the disjointed nature of services to mothersand their children. Apparently no attempt was made to determine the needs ofthe mother. She may well have been known to other agencies, she may wellhave been a Ministry of Social Services recipient, but no connections weremade to try to assess her needs, to determine if she wanted to attempt to keepher babies. There is little information in the file:May 27: Betty gave birth. Used cocaine and alcohol duringpregnancy. Baby in intensive care. Baby transferred to Sunny Hill.Plan -- get permanent wardship.November: Reason for closure -- baby is permanent ward. (F02-05)On such little information, how does a ministry worker base decisions toapprehend?134Connie:Connie's file was re-opened when her thirteen-year-old daughter wasbrought to Emergency Services by police. She was found at a noisy party.Connie's daughter said her home was a "place where sister gets all theattention. Connie drinks a lot and her boyfriend tries to boss daughter around"(F03-01).Connie's other daughter was seventeen at the time. She was thought tobe a slow learner. Connie also had a son who was a permanent ward and whowas diagnosed as mildly mentally retarded. Both daughters had been in and outof Short Term Care for years and had stayed with relatives at different times.Until the daughter was brought to E.S. by police, all the previous recordings inthe file were for non-protection Short Term Care Agreements.Prior to the event when police found Connie's younger daughter at theparty, a service request had been put into the ministry:Daughter had been living with her uncle for the past month.Daughter returned home. Daughter's friend called police to requestthey attend a domestic dispute. Daughter had tried to leave home,her uncle locked her in her room. Daughter screaming and yelling.Connie attended Emergency Services, all parties angry. Daughterhas history of running away. I would not be surprised if sheAWOL's. (F03-02)Just over one year later, another call to the ministry from Connie's sistervoiced concern of neglect:May, 1990: Connie's sister called, feels her nieces are neglected.The home is messy. There is no food in the home, Connie hasn'tbeen at home for at least 2 days. Girls are sleeping on blankets on135the floor with no beds ... older girl not able to attend schoolbecause she does not have bus pass ... Connie is downtown onskid row in the bars.... Placements with relatives have not workedin the past as the girls have "ripped off" the relatives and runaway. (F03-04)Later that year the older daughter was brought to Emergency Services by astreet worker. She had been spending time on Hastings Street with a knowndrug dealer. They couldn't locate Connie. The younger daughter wasapprehended "because Connie unable to provide a stable residence for her"(F03-09). The Plan by the ministry was to "apply for temporary order andmaintain daughter's placement and schooling" (F03-09).Approximately six months later, the younger daughter was made apermanent ward at the age of 15 years. There is no information as to whathappened to the older daughter who would have been nineteen years, the ageof consent and not the concern of the ministry. The mother seemed to havedisappeared.Connie had two children who were developmentally delayed. WasConnie developmentally delayed? This question is raised because of adescription of her behavior in the following recording:January: Family continues to act in a dysfunctional manner.Connie continues to act as a confused, indecisive adolescent whooccasionally and in an inappropriate manner, tried to assumeparenting role. (F03-08)Connie was forty-four years old, not an adolescent. Did she need professionalhelp in life skills and parenting skills development? According to file text, thiswas never questioned.136Donna:Donna's file opened after her two children were apprehended becausethey were apparently left alone all night. Donna, a Native woman, was at thattime twenty-eight years old, her children were seven and twelve years. Thedaughter's teacher had called the ministry because the daughter told her thatthey had been left alone. The teacher noted that both children "generallyappeared to be well cared for" (F04-02).1985: Donna denied the fact that she had been out all night. Shewas furious when I came in with the children. Both childrenappeared healthy and appropriately dressed. Neither had anyconcerns about their mother. (F04-01)A year later, Donna requested homemaker help so she could attend AAmeetings. It was noted:For the record there have been no reports of alcohol abuse in pastmonths. Son has been seen in the office with Donna and appearshealthy, responsible and well cared for. (F04-03)One month later, Donna's eight year old son was apprehended from adowntown eastside sub shop when has was found there by police at 9:00 p.m.Donna was next door in a pub with her common-law. Donna and her partnerwere granted a three-month supervision order and her son was discharged toher care. Later that year Donna gave birth to a baby girl.A year later, Donna called the ministry to say that her older daughter hadrun away. She had been having difficulties in school and had the wrong type offriends. A year after that call, Donna called again requesting a referral to137Project Parent and a homemaker as "she and her daughter see a counsellor eachweek" (F04-08).In 1989, Donna's older daughter had a baby. There is no information inthe file about the daughter's thoughts or feelings about her baby.Daughter is living with her parents. She just had a baby last week.She and Donna wanted to apply for CIHR [Child in home ofRelative, a financial arrangement whereby a relative is given moneyfor caring for a child].. .(F04-09)Later in that year the daughter was brought into the ministry by a streetworker:Daughter brought in by DYAS, has been living on the street on andoff for last 3 months refusing to return home because she and hermother do not get along and Donna's husband has twice madesexual advances towards her. She was beat up by ex-boyfriend ...Her baby died this past summer [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome].Decision to apprehend. (F04-10)The fact that her baby had died was not dealt with in the recordings, except inpassing. How it affected the daughter and her family was not recorded at all.There is absolutely no sense of the stepfather/husband because theministry workers, according to the files, never had contact with him directly.No follow up was done with the daughter's allegations that he had sexuallyharrassed her.^The file was closed when the daughter decided to returnhome to live. Her stepfather had "attended a residential alcohol treatmentcentre" and "daughter is comfortable in home now" (F04-12).138Ethel:Ethel was a young mother of a baby boy when her file was opened. Shehad separated from her husband because she thought his sexual behaviouraround their 3 1/2 month old son was inappropriate.August 1: Ethel is presently staying at ^ transition housebut will be moving into her own suite in August. Ethel wants toreunite with husband if they can complete a counselling program.Husband acknowledges phoning a sexual fantasy line andmasturbating but never around the infant.September 8: Home visit. Husband not pleased to see me. Hebecame angry and refused to see anyone who was a sexologist orthe sexual medicine unit. He said he had no sexual problems - -they had a communication problem. (F05-06)The transition house worker said "Ethel is expressing ambivalence about caringfor child. She is breast feeding and apparently having difficulty producingenough milk and needs rest. I obtained a homemaker" (F05-01).Ethel had an abusive childhood. She suspected she was sexually abusedby a foster grandfather. There was also a notation in her file regarding thefamily physician being aware that Ethel had been forced to strip and act in bluemovies in the past. Information about when this happened or who forced herwas not given.The bulk of the file text is about Ethel's psychiatric problems and theireffect on her ability to mother. Her mental stability is noted by her husbandwhen they separate:1984: Husband says that he loves Ethel and his son. He says thatshe can be emotionally unstable and imagines thing. He has been139with her during times when she was convinced that the televisionwas speaking to her and sending messages. (F05-04)Ethel's psychiatric problems continued. In 1985 the social worker notedthat she was in distress. Ethel was diagnosed as manic depressive:September: Matters are deteriorating rapidly... Ethel placed at[psychiatric care centre] under her own volition. She was assessedas being actively psychotic and manic depressive. Grandmotheragreed to care for her son.But when she left the centre and was receiving care through the CommunityCare Team, the file notes that Ethel was diagnosed as being schizophrenic.One may wonder if there was a misdiagnosis and what consequences thatcould have had on her mental health.Ethel continued her mothering in between the stays at psychiatric carecentres. She was also diagnosed as having uterine cancer which ended insurgery. Her son was placed in foster homes or with his grandmother duringthese periods, and whether or not his father visited him is not noted. However,in Janurary of 1987 the husband's lawyer informed the ministry that the fatherwas granted temporary interim custody of his son, who was then 3 years old.Ethel from time to time worried that her husband was sexually abusingtheir son and at one point her mother, who often visited the boy at his father'shome, said she noticed tears on his rectum. This was reported, the boy waschecked at Children's Hospital, and the file read, "sexual abuse complaint wasunfounded" (F05-21).140Ethel became involved with another man, got pregnant, left him, andresided with her mother after her second baby was born. Ethel attendedHealthiest Babies Possible and continued her treatment through the CommunityCare Team but her behavior was a concern:October: Social worker from [hospital] called. Ethel gave birth to aboy. They were very concerned about her ability to parent thechild. Homemaker put in five hours/day, Monday to Friday. (F05-22)Ethel was thought to be obsessed with allegations of sexual abuse of herolder son by her former husband. The file closes with these notes:April, 1989: Ethel lives with her son and mother. At this timeEthel is in contact with the Community Care Team [for psychiatriccare] and her mother is providing care for son.It is likely that Ethel will contact MSSH again regarding concern that oldest sonis being sexually abused. The school counsellor explained that staff had seen nosymptoms and would contact MSSH should any concerns arise. (F05-26)141Fran:Fran is a twenty-six year old Native mother of one boy, aged two years.In 1985 she lived with her sister. The file was opened to give Fran's son ShortTerm Care because Fran and her sister had a fight, Fran had to leave, and shehad no accommodation.There are no earlier recordings than September 1985, but the recordingsocial worker gave accounts of past interventions:The^ family is a multi-generation multi-problem native Indianfamily whose latest family branches are proving to be very frailsupport for their children. Social worker believes a future for thechildren of being in and out of foster care is almost certainty. (F06-02)Fran and her sister have a history of alcohol abuse and resultantchild neglect ... The warnings have been issued and the lecturesgiven but the girls [sic] own experience of life in their society, andthe abilities of their extended family networks to provide barelytolerable levels of care for the children have preventedapprehensions up until now. (F06-03)... Fran's recent behavior of taking her STCA child away from carehome for a few hours, then turning this into a few days while sheplayed tourist in Seattle, is a typical example. Her mother, ofcourse, was able to prevent son's apprehension by virtue of herwillingness to stand-in for her errant daughter. (F06-04)Fran can see son for a max of 4 hours - no overnights are allowedas her present residence is unknown and would probably beundesirable for an infant's care.. .(F06-05)This initial recording is a diatribe against Fran and her family, exemplifying howmothers are blamed. The text is also racist in the way the family's history isviewed.142Fran and her sister were painted with the same brush by the ministry andby staff at a local non-profit agency. Even when Fran made efforts to stopdrinking, she was still thought to be a neglecting mother because she continuedto live with her sister, who contined to drink:Alert. December 13: Other adults move in with Fran and sister, allare heavy drinkers and hostile to MHR [Ministry of HumanResources now called Ministry of Social Services]. Social workerand Public Health Nurse visited home as sister's son had seriousimpetigo. Sister only got treatment for son under threat ofapprehension. Social worker remains concerned. (F06-07)[non-profit agency] staff called. Fran and another sister wereintoxicated and children were in their care. Car 86 workers [policeoffice and social worker] found mother through her mother.Children asleep at a friend's. Fran did not appear to be drunk.(F06-09)Four years later, Fran had another baby and her file was reopened whenshe requested a childcare worker for her older son who was exhibiting agressivebehaviour. This was in the fall of 1989. Fran's common-law husband wasreported abusive to her older son, as witnessed by school staff. Fran at thattime was seeing a Community Care Team worker for counselling and theworker confronted her about her common-law's behavior. No mention in thefile was made about confronting him, nor the risk factor of having him in thefamily.In April, 1990, Fran called the ministry to request a child care worker forher son who was still acting out. As a result, a child protection report was filedin which Fran was named as the neglecting parent. Although Fran was the onewho called the ministry asking for help for her son who had been expelled from143school, and although when Fran self-referred previously it was deemed "non-protection" (and although in other files self-referral is reported as "non-protection"), this particular report was nonetheless reported as "childprotection".The file recordings are confusing to the reader at this point because thenext entry, which is almost one year later when an anonymous caller allegedchild neglect, notes that a childcare worker had not "become involved with thefamily after September 1989 request for one by Community Care Team" (F06-17). So, Fran and her son had evidently coped without the support services(childcare worker) that Fran had requested several months previously. Fran'sattempts at improving her life and her family's was noted at that point:February 1991: Fran advised me that she attends upgrading atthe Native Education Centre. Son goes to school and baby islooked after by his grandmother. Fran denied the concernsreported, said she was studying too hard to be able to drink or dodrugs.. .The apartment, this date, was fairly tidy and the familywas eating lunch ... (F06-18)A special services worker was assigned to the family.The file was closed in September of that year and services stopped, withFran telling the worker that "she and baby's father had married.., and she feelsson has adjusted well to their new home and school" (F06-21). The socialworker commented that Fran sounded happy.144Gloria:Gloria was a twenty-four year old Native mother of two children whenher file was opened. Gloria's relationship with the ministy lasted just over ayear. It began with a call from a crisis center worker:May 30: Crisis centre worker called. Gloria was in a safe homeafter her boyfriend beat her up. On Saturday Gloria superficially cuther wrists. Had visit with Gloria. She's had a tough life with a lotof excess baggage. e.g. she was sexually abused by her father andbrothers throughout her life and then was forced to prostituteherself for seven years. She realized she needs counselling butneeds a baby sitter. (F07-01)Two months later, Gloria is charged with abandonment when she leavesthe family home to escape her violent partner. The circumstances are not clear,except that she was running away to protect herself, and the ministry blamesher for neglecting her children.July 9: Gloria was distraught and left her family home and herchildren with her common-law who has assaulted her and her sonin the past. The common-law is before the court for such charges.Children apprehended at grandfather's house where they werevisiting. (F07-02)The following month Gloria called the ministry to have her children gointo a temporary foster home. She had left her abusing partner and had appliedfor a restraining order. She went to the states to visit her step-father who wasdying of cancer and had no place to make a home for the children when shereturned. The ministry reported this need for Short Term Care as "childprotection", citing "neglect" and "emotional abuse" as risk factors. The usualpractice of the ministry is to report self-referral as "non-protection" because it is145seen as family support rather than protection insofar as the responsible parentis asking for help before neglect or abuse is probable or evidenced. Gloria wascharged as neglectful even though she took the necessary steps to prevent anyneglect or abuse from happening!It was agreed by the ministry to support her efforts to obtain parentingskills. Gloria "accepted the services of a [family advancement] worker to workon parenting skills" (F07-05). Once Gloria found accommodation, she asked forthe children to be returned, they were, and the file was closed.146Hannah:The child protection authorities entered Hannah's life when theyapprehended her baby at midnight, called in by a babysitter who could nolonger stay. Hannah had left her baby in the care of a friend who in turn calledin a sitter. The sitter said Hannah's friend had been drinking. "There was verylittle food and a great number of empty beer bottles as well as two empty liquorbottles" (F08-01).When Hannah went to Emergency Services to plead for the return of thebaby (her history was one of drinking in the downtown eastside) a socialworker noted, "Hannah stated that she was enrolled in a job training programand attend AA regularly. The [other] social worker felt that Hannah presentedas 'a very caring, responsible and concerned parent who was trying to make ago of it" (F08-02). The file at that time was closed with this statement:"Hannah went to Round Lake. Although Hannah has been sober for one yearshe felt she needed support in order to contine to refrain from use of alcohol"(F08-03).One year later, after having her second child, she reported to the ministryan allegation of sexual abuse of her older daughter by her common-lawhusband, whom she had just left. At that point, Hannah disclosed to the socialworker that she had had a son at a very young age, had adopted him out, andthat it was then Hannah started drinking. She was raped twice during that timein her life, and recalled she had been sexually abused by an uncle during her147childhood. Hannah's common-law admitted sexually molesting her daughterand he was charged with sexual assault.Knowing her daughter was sexually abused triggered her own past andHannah then went through a period of distress and depression. She movedfrom her common-law to a transition house and the staff noted:Hannah was neglectful of kids, she was 'depressed and not copingwith the children'. Hannah admitted to the staff at [the transitionhouse] that she had thought a lot about bringing the kids into care.(F08-11)Hannah's own need to be cared for in her time of distress was not recognizedby her worker:Although Hannah is determined to put her life in order, some of herexpectations about how to accomplish this seem unrealistic andnot very well thought out. e.g. immediately after daughter wasmolested, mother wanted to go into a treatment program to dealwith her own issues. She quickly put aside the needs of herdaughters to focus on her personal problems. As [transtion house]staff pointed out, mother was capable of dismissing her daughtersemotional and physical needs by 'putting them to bed'. Hannahdoesn't seem to realize just how much her daughters need herright now. So, whereas Hannah's determination to 'get better'herself is a positive sign, her inability to deal with her daughterspresent needs is not. (F08-12)The file was closed on a note that defies this previous recording. In spite of themother-blaming she had to withstand, Hannah met all of her goals:Closing Recording: Over past year Hannah has achieved all of thegoals set out for herself:1. completion of her grade 10 GED.2. on-going alcohol counselling and sexual abuse counselling.3. tubal ligation after her last child.4. continuation of her therapy and education on a long-term basis.(F08-14)148Irene:The file in Irene's name opened in 1984 when her three-year-old daughterwas apprehended because she contracted gonorrhea from her father, Irene'shusband. This case is particularly sad because it spans seven years and, overthe course of time, Irene's gradual and then rapid deterioration is fullydocumented. In 1984 Irene is described as "generally quiet and passive innature". She is thought to be a caring parent:Irene appears to have spent considerable time and effort teachingdaughter. She has been patient and seems to enjoy their timetogether. She could perhaps use some help in discipline ofdaughter and in establishing limits for her behavior. Irene is open tonew parenting ideas, saying "you can always learn something".Irene states clearly that her first commitment is to her daughter ...(F09-02)The following recording points out that the intervention made by childprotection workers in relation to the sexual abuse by the father focussed onIrene's apparent inability to be a good mother:Plan of Action:1. Project Parent - 6 to 8 months, two times a week. Father could beintegrated into P.P. at some point down the road when deemedappropriate.2. Return daughter to mother ASAP. Father is not to live with them.3. Supervised visits for father.4. Father must receive treatment regarding sexual abuse issues by arecognized expert in the field.Was Irene being held responsible for allowing her husband to sexually abuse herdaughter?Irene's husband was convicted of sexual assault, sentenced to jail, andplaced on probation for five years. Irene had her daughter returned to her two149months after the apprehension and she was discharged from care one yearlater. Irene managed well during this time. The social worker reports wereglowing:Irene's progress has been remarkable over the past year and shehas shown incredible effort and motivation in following throughwith plans to improve her life and that of daughter's. She has beenvery determined to regain control of her family and the future.Daughter has also moved from being a self destructive out ofcontrol child to being quite healthy and reasonably behaved. (F09-05)During the two years following the apprehension, Irene and her daughterwere in therapy. Her daughter had sexual abuse counselling and Irene attendedVISACS for sexual abuse counselling herself. When Irene was a child she wassexually abused but her history is not well documented, with only occasionalallusions to her past. Project Parent was attended faithfully for one year. Aswell, Irene completed a pre-employment course. In 1985, this was the courseof action:Suggested Plan of Action:1. Educational - Irene completed pre-employment in May. She isslated to go to ^ College for upgrading.2. Daycare - will be needed3. Homemakers - have been readily provided4. Custody - has begun procedures for custody and divorce. She hasalso applied for Victims Compensation money.5. At mother's discretion, supervised visits may be granted betweenfather and daughter.6. Irene has clear idea of her goals. (F09-10)In January, 1986, an anonymous caller complained of Irene partying.Upon questioning by the social worker, Irene said she was too busy to party.The daycare worker questioned by the social worker only had positive remarks150about the family, stating that any lack of food or clothing was due to a lack ofmoney, not neglect. Irene's daughter suffered from a genetic condition whichproduced dark circles under her eyes, a condition which was the basis of otherneglect calls over time. At that point, Irene was thought to be "consistent andloving" (F09-14). She told the social worker that her daughter had begun toexhibit more sexual acting-out behavior and Irene reacted favourably to thesocial worker's suggestion that her daughter attend a non-profit agency whichprovides services to children with behavior problems.Eight months later a social worker's visit to the family raised an alarm:September: Visited Irene. She lives with daughter in a very darkbasement suite. The place was tidy but very smelly. Irene and Ihave been trying to meet for a month but Irene slept through acouple of appointments and gave me the wrong address. Irene ...was very drowsy throughout the interview, I wonder if she istaking drugs. (F09-16)I was somewhat concerned after my visit. It appears to me thatIrene is on a downhill slide and the district supervisor agreed thatthis is possible. It appears to me to be a borderline neglectsituation. (F09-18)The following service plan points out that there was no focus on Irene'sbehavior as it affected her life, only as it interfered with her care for herdaughter:Plan:monitor through school and Project ^[services to daughter]-^support Irene in obtaining a custody order denying accessTwo months later, Irene's daughter went into care with a Short Term CareAgreement because of neglect: "Irene has been neglecting daughter for151sometime, and has been prostituting and involved in drugs" (F09-20). There isno recording citing evidence of this.Four months later it was found out that Irene had a partner with whomshe got pregnant. Irene was to give up the baby for adoption. Her daughterwas returned home two months following. While she was in care Irene was"extremely inconsistent in her visiting, which daughter finds difficult. Irenealmost always late and missed a number of visits" (F09-22). There is nomention whether Irene had transporation or money to get to where daughterwas staying, nor the distance she had to travel.In the summer of 1987, Irene's daughter said that her mother's partner hither and often locked her in her room at night. The couple were warned by thesocial worker to change their disciplining, that apprehension was near. At thattime a social worker made the comment: "...there is some suspicion that[Irene's partner] is her pimp, and that he is heavily involved in cocaine but theydeny this" (F09-26). Later that year, Irene did admit she was hooking but thatshe never did it out of the home.In February, 1988, the social worker noted that the daughter wasexhibiting anxiety and "sexual content" although the worker stated that Irene"has a great deal of understanding of daughter and uses a lot of good parentingtechniques" (F09-31). The daughter was "medicalled" and was found to bemedically healthy. The dark circles under her eyes were confirmed as a geneticcondition, not as a result of nutritional deficit or allergy. Irene's daughter's152acting-out behavior escalated and Irene's behavior became more reclusive. Sheavoided callers and did not respond to notes put under the door by the socialworker.Irene once again got pregnant with her partner. This time Irene decidedto keep the baby. A list of concerns was noted by the social worker:April, 1988:meeting at school, Irene not present. I visited home, no answerwhen child care worker drops daughter off home, Irene's partnerdoes not talk to her or greet her daughter- nurturing is from daughter to mother- during kindergarten year Irene would arrive late to pick up but givethe child no apology or hugwhen school secretary phones because daughter not at school,sometimes daughter answers and says she'll come "if I can get mymom up" (F09-34)Plan:- I will pursue residential tratment optionsone-to-one worker with daughter (F09-35)Irene's daughter went into Short Term Care, living in a residence. Irenegave birth to a baby girl who had no signs of drug withdrawal and the babywent home. Irene and her partner were visited frequently by social workersover the next few months. It was noted time and again that the home had mencoming and going, specifically "black men". It was during this time that socialworkers noted their concerns about drugs and prostitution. Whenever men ofcolour were present, the recording social worker noted that. Presumably Irene'spartner was Black because when her baby was born Irene said, "she's dark like^" (F09-37). It seems reasonable that he would have Black friends andone questions why the references to "colour" were made.153As time passed, Irene's deterioration was recorded:June, 1989: Home visit to Irene, two black men left as usual. Sheagain looked awful, when I commented she said "so manyproblems". Baby looked well ... .There are no toys for stimulationfor baby ... (F09-59)The following entries give indications that Irene could have been trying to getout of a bad situation and that she was quite likely afraid of her partner:July 27: Home visit to serve Irene, found her alone(!). Sheinteracted more with baby who looks thin and is getting the darkcircles. Still no toys ... Irene spoke much more freely today ...admitted cocaine habit and asked for information re: treatmentresources. (F09-61)July 28: Home visit. Irene says [her partner] is very paranoid ...and always expects her or someone to be informing on him. (F09-62)Aug 13: Irene called Emergency Services for transition houseplacement which they arranged, but she changed her mind... (F09-63)Aug 16: Home visit ... Irene alseep, another black male asleep oncouch. Irene seemed to have no impetus to leave. She said [herpartner] found the phone numbers I left her and was angry. (F09-64)Irene admitted that she was prostituting and that she and her partnerwere addicted to cocaine. She complained that he took all the money, didn'tleave her enough for food for her and the baby. It was at that time that asocial worker made this file entry:Nov: Strong potential for sexual abuse, due to Irene's own historyof being sexually abused and her demonstrated inability to protecther first child; she chose an abusive partner, did not notice abusefor some time; did act appropriately on discovery, but later hadrelationship with at least one known abuser and provided almost154no supervision of daughter running at large in a high risk complex.(F09-70)The worker's words give the allusion that Irene was culpable in the sexualabuse of her daughter by her ex-partner and that she colluded in her ownabuse.Irene was once again pregnant, and when the baby was born it wasdiagnosed as having NAS: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. The baby wasapprehended because of the parents' transient lifestyle (prostitution, drugs, andmoving to downtown eastside). In view of their past history, the 20-month-oldwas also apprehended. Irene's older daughter had been made a permanentward some months before. Irene did not attend the court hearings. With nofurther children in the home, the file was closed.Irene went from being a mother who showed remarkable progress to onewho didn't show at all. From the accounts of the social workers, Irene wascontrolled and sexually abused by men all of her life.155Joan:In 1988, Joan was a sixteen-year-old who had been apprehended, hadgone AWOL, was prostituting and using drugs, was charged with assaultcausing bodily harm, and who had a "pimp" boyfriend. And then she waspregnant.After the baby was born, MSSH put in a lot of supportive services(re: one to one worker, homemaker). Joan did not accept thehelp...(F10-07)There was a Short Term Care Agreement ... boyfriend had takenthe baby and gone to a streetworker saying that he couldn't findJoan. Baby was apprehended. Joan went to Toronto, did noplanning re: getting baby back and a permanent order was granted.(F10-08)The Family Service file was opened in 1991 because Joan was expectinganother baby. A former social worker said the family was "like hillbillies" (F10-05). Joan herself was termed "subfunctional; hostile; possibly physicallyviolent; she is living with her mother who is not much more functional" (F10-03).Joan had the baby at the end of February. She "appeared receptive to allsupport services" but the records cautioned that she "appeared incapable ofmake safe decisions" (F10-12). Joan and her mother moved to Vancouver fromthe interior with the baby and lived in an apartment where the landlady tookcare of the baby often.July: On many occasions Joan left the baby with [landlady] whileshe spent the night elsewhere with her whereabouts unknown ...On several occasions Joan disappeared for several days, andduring one of her disappearances [landlady] took the baby to156Children's Hospital because the child was suffering possibleseizures. A guardian's consent was needed for the child thereforebaby was apprehended. (F10-15)Joan did not show the concern the ministry needed to be assured sheloved and wanted the baby so they made the daughter a permanent ward: "Themother has only visited the child five times since the apprehension and thosevisits were only accomplished because a child care worker had to pick up andtransport Joan to the office for visits" (F10-16). The baby went to Joan'scousin in the east. There is no mention in the records how the ministry foundout about the cousin.157Kathy:Kathy's file was opened seven years prior to the closing date. Kathy wasthirty-two years old at the time the file was opened, her two children were oneand six years of age. She was married to the man who fathered her children,and he was residing with the family. Kathy is Native and moved to B.C. withher family a year prior to file opening.The file was opened with a child protection intake. The following istaken from the running records:March 17 -- Children apprehended. Father came home drunk andgot abusive with Kathy. She left to stay with a friend, leavingchildren behind. She called a babysitter in to look in on them onSaturday but babysitter decided to drink instead. Father left houseat 10 a.m. to look for Kathy. That afternoon son went to aneighbour who called Emergency Services. Kathy returned home6:30 p.m. and contacted Emergency Services. Father and Kathymet at Children's Hospital. Father going to detox and would not beback in the home. After lengthy talk Kathy better understandswhat happened and why and I think will be more likely to contactEmergency Services for help than to abandon her children. (F11-01)Although Kathy left her children at home to escape her abusive husband, andcalled in a babysitter the next day to look after the children (she was not toknow the sitter didn't show up until after she got home later that day), Kathywas charged with abandoning her children. The father on the other hand wasnever attributed with abandonment even though he was the parent who left thehome knowing the children were unattended. The father did return to the158home, and in subsequent meetings with the social worker his neglectfulbehavior was not raised.Over the course of the months following the initial intake, Social Servicesworkers had ongoing contact with the family, particularly around the courthearing held in May when a 3-month supervision order was given. This meantthat for three months the parenting abilities of Kathy and presumably herhusband had been monitored.The following entry addresses the continued abuse of Kathy by herhusband.March 22 -- Father still drinking and beaten up. Hearing May 1st.Visited Kathy, home looked much better and mother almostfriendly. Non status as her father sold his status years ago.Contacted social worker in Saskatchewan. Son in care three times,twice by agreement (once while she was undergoing alcoholtreatment) and in September when he was abandoned and in careone month. Mother had a drinking problem and a poor relationshipwith Saskatchewan social services. She had lied about living withfather and has been beaten by him, always promising to break upwith him. Has been through 2-3 alcohol programs and seen asuntrusting and difficult to work with. No history of child abuse.(F11-02)The abuse against Kathy and her reluctance to leave her abusing husband isseen to be her problem, not his.Following the initial intake there was another report of child neglect butthe records are not clear what the incident was. Another entry was made thefollowing month:April 30 -- Both Kathy and father in to talk about weekendEmergency Services report although they did not come in together.Kathy admits to getting lonely and went drinking only to run into159father with another woman. She got very jealous and admits gotvery out of control. She is aware she is having a problem but isvery reluctant to get help. She had thought of getting counselling... After a long talk agreed to try Project Parent. Discussed ShortTerm Care Agreement but she could not live with this. Father inlater. He recognized that Kathy has more than she can handle nowi.e. (1) moving (2) court and (3) children and school for son. Fatherwould like to help her over next few days. Agreed this mightlessen mother's burden now but over the long run would probablynot work as nothing has really changed in their lives. He agreedand felt Kathy needed help but was unable to accept anythingcoming from MHR. He says she sees any government program asbeing only set up to take things away from her and definitely seesherself as a victim. It is clear to me that Kathy will only considerhelp while in crisis and probably by the time Project Parent has anopening (one month) she will no longer see it as helpful. (F11-05)This recording gives evidence of how the ministry continued to place the onuson Kathy even when the children's father was present. Not only was herhusband not held responsible for any family problems but this man whoviolently assaulted her was allowed to speak for her.Although Kathy ended up going to Project Parent, it was said by theprogram workers that "the project would be of no use to them. They feel herparenting is adequate without them" (F11-08). Affirmed as she was by thoseworkers, when Kathy met again with the social worker she talked of herinadequacies and how she felt responsible for the relationship with herhusband, as this entry shows:She still feels ... that she must give in to him or the argument lastsfor hours. Said father not interested in counselling. (F11-09)160There is no indication in the files whether the social worker tacitly agreed oropenly challenged the premise that the woman has to take responsiblity for allfamily and marital relations.Their case was reopened a year later when their young daughter wasapprehended from a daycare centre. Kathy and her husband did not pick uptheir daughter before closing time and the staff there said the parents hadarrived at other times intoxicated. The issues around poverty and self-esteemand a sense of hopelessness are disclosed by the parents in the following entry:July 12 -- Parents have started AA. I told Kathy about CIPopportunity at daycare centre. She was not interested as sheperceives the program as cheap labour. They are reticent to engagein therapy. They felt the therapist they tried had set them oneagainst the other and that she did not respect them because oftheir socio-economic situation. I told them those feelings wereprobably more their own than those of the therapist. However,they were real to them. I explained that therapy is difficult andonly works when the people really want to do it. Father told methey often get very discouraged because of poverty. (F11-12)The context of this woman's life is more fully understood in this recording, as isher ability to analyze social issues.^As the recordings continue, there is asense that both parents are trying to change their lives for the better and yetare getting more discouraged. Both parents go to AA four times a week andare provided a homemaker through Social Services to care for children duringthe meetings.July 18 -- I told them I was impressed by their visiting [daughter incare]. They are incredibly consistent in transporting the child toand from daycare and foster home. Emergency Services socialworker saw Kathy "working" Thursday night. [note: workingmeans prostitution] Father came in saying he is under too much161stress taking daughter to hospital for allergy tests and back andforth to daycare. I agreed it was demanding. (F11-13)Yet another apprehension is carried out the following February, sevenmonths later. Both children are put into a foster home. The son is said to havebehavioral problems by his school teacher, is disturbed, and steals lunch fromother children because he is hungry. The parents visit almost daily, althoughthey got evicted from their home for being rowdy and drunk. The foster fathercould not handle the son and the children were moved to separate resourcefacilities. Both father and Kathy were still battling alcohol:April -- Kathy upset because she and father had been fighting.Father blames her for daughter's crying. She said she wanted toleave him but couldn't because she felt sorry for him. Heapparently goes to her apartment when drunk and knocks on thedoor until she opens it. She usually opens the door for fear ofbeing evicted. Kathy called and asked to be placed in an Alcoholand Drug Program. A 3-month wait at Aurora House and RoundLake. Mother discouraged. (F11-16)The next month Kathy went into a transition house because her husbandwouldn't leave her alone. She had frequently been late visiting her daughter atthe foster home or wouldn't show up which upset her daughter. She waspresenting herself as a "confused person" to the new case worker (in all therewere six ministry case workers assigned to Kathy and her family over a sevenyear period). But in her confusion, and with the help of the transition housestaff, Kathy was beginning to question how her marriage had been a "one-sided, non-reciprocal relationship" (F11-17). Adding to the notion that Kathy162was confused, the following entry confuses the reader because the contentcontradicts previous recordings about a disturbed son and troubled daughter:June 19 -- The one positive aspect with this couple: individuallyboth have been good parents... both have been able to provide agood maturing relationship with the children and that both childrenare very close to both parents. (F11 - 18)A July entry indicated that the parents had separated permanently andKathy was volunteering at a family drop-in agency and handling singleparenthood well with the assistance of weekly homemaker respite care. Butthen a year passed and a recording noted that Kathy put the children into careunder a Short Term Care Agreement (STCA) because she could no longer copewith the responsibility of caring for them. She thought she may give custodyof her daughter to the father.August 17 -- Kathy dry for over one year and is just now trying toget the strength together to work on issues. She is very hurt andriddled with guilt for the damage she has done to son. (F11 -21)Kathy's son was in care for over two and one-half years. Kathycontinued to seek help. Kathy's visits to her son were sporadic.June -- Began [native life skills program]. Started VISACS[counselling and group therapy for sexual abuse survivors] andcelebrated three years sobriety this month. This year Kathy alsostarted seeing therapist at the community care team. Son vistswith Kathy and his sister on weekends. In March Kathy lost controland spanked daughter. Son intervened and mother startedpunching him and chasing him around with a belt. Kathy told sonto get out. Son apprehended because STCA ended. Kathy notready to take son back but was prepared to work cooperatively tohave him return. (F11 -25)163Another year passed, with Kathy having the children on weekends. Herson was finally returned home. When she had to move and couldn't find aplace, she moved into her husband's apartment. He beat her up. Kathy had apaid job at a native centre but lost the job when she didn't show up for work.In September her son was to attend an out-of-area school he'd been at the yearbefore and Kathy blew up at the social worker when she found out the ministrywould not pay for the bus pass. Although her social worker said she hadoptions and that the ministry was there for support, needed financial resourceswere not being offered. Kathy continued to work at her relationship with herfamily:September -- ... ..Kathy claims she does not spend a lot of timeaway from son and daughter. They do a lot as a family. Sheusually gets away on Thursday nights when she goes to her AAmeetings. The children are hardly left alone ... Kathy admits shewas thinking about son coming back into care. After giving it somethought she decided that she would give it a chance. She was inagreement to family counselling. She and son are presentlyattending art therapy. (F11-27)The following winter Kathy's worker noted the risk factor and made anassessment:February -- Risk Factor/Assessment:Kathy's low frustration level. Concern that she has talked abouttaking off, leaving childrenson's provoking behavior and mother's difficulty dealing with thisinadequate living arrangements (3 people living in a one bedroomapartment)Kathy's history of anger management problems and depression-^^son's unwillingness to discuss his family situation with anyone. Hisinability to trustson's difficulties in school and Kathy's frustration around thisimmediate need for family counselling164Outcome:Kathy and son are seeing art therapist. Kathy wants to attendfamily counselling with both children. She has sought someindividual help. There is a child care worker and homemaker in thehome at present. Letter sent to B.C. Housing for accommodation.(F11-28)It is not clear what was done with this assessment by the worker. The"outcome" noted in the file shows that Kathy seemed to be trying to improveher parenting skills and deal with the past abuse in her life. The daily strugglewith poverty that Kathy had lamented about years before still plagued herabilities to mother.The file was transferred to another district office one month later. TheMarch entry had a notation that the art therapist had called, advising that Kathywas "really distressed", "talking suicide", and had made threats of killing herselfin front of the children, and that one of Kathy's major concerns was the lack ofspace in a one bedroom apartment. Based on the fact that Kathy carried outher motherly duties over the course of the next few days without any problem,one wonders if Kathy's threats of suicide were a strategy to get the ministry topush for subsidized housing.^Three months later the file recordings note thatthe son went to Alberta for the summer to visit his aunt and that Kathy's ex-husband had applied for custody of the daughter and son through the FamilyRelations Act. There was no mention whether the father had quit drinking, norhow Kathy responded to this news. The last two entries in the file are shortand to the point:165September -- Father was successful with his FRA application.Daughter and son moved in with him. (F11-33)October -- Since Kathy no longer has the children in her care, thisFS file can be closed. (F11-34)We do not know how Kathy faired, nor if she even visited the children.Because her children were no longer with her, Kathy was no longer of concern.166Lynne:Lynne was forty-nine years of age when her file was opened. She hadtwo daughters, fourteen and seventeen years old. Lynne was divorced fromthe children's father.Lynne's younger daughter went to the ministry and said she could nolonger live with her mother, who was too strict. The daughter said she couldn'tabide by her mother's rules: "no skirts above knees, no make-up, in by 6 p.m.on school nights, no loud music" (F12-03).The daughter's father said he was concerned about what he termed theemotional abuse of his daughter by Lynne. He wanted his daughter to live withhim and his new wife and family. Lynne refused. She said he was a "con artistand emotionally twisted" and that he didn't abide by the original court order andthat he never visited his daughter when he was supposed to. The social workernoted that Lynne was "consumed with hatred and mistrust for father" (F12-04).Over a three year span, Lynne's daughter attempted living with relatives,at a residential place, and finally with her father. Life with father didn't turn outand she left his home.One does not get a sense of this family or of Lynne, except that she ispainted as an hysterical, old fashioned husband-hating woman. The daughter'slife is sketchy: she had a boyfriend. In order to protect him "she let herself begang raped" (F12-06) and then eventually her boyfriend got her pregnant. Shedecided to keep the baby, against both her parents' wishes.1 67The file closes, noting that Lynne's daughter was discharged from care tolive on her own. She was eighteen at that point and a mother. This meant sheceased being a child in need of protection.168Moira:The story of Moira is short. The file contains only a few terse recordings.In 1984, she was a twenty-five year old Native woman with three children incare in Alberta. She had a history of alcohol abuse and prostitution.In 1984, when the B.C. child welfare authorities became involved, Moirawanted to get her children back. She agreed to make "significant changes inher life" (F13-01) and proceeded to do just that.Outcome of treatment:Mother has really made significant gains in her personal life stylethrought the past 18 months. She has stopped drinking and hasaccepted the assistance offered by the Native Alcohol Services.She has relocated to better than adequate accommodations.Though unable to find employment, she has been financially stablefor the past year ... Furthermore, she has been working as avolunteer teachers assistant...(F13-05)The social worker recording her outcome attributed Moira's success toher commitment to change and to government services: "Majority of thesesignificant changes that Moira has made is by working hard and accepting thesupport, help and advice of [social worked" (F13-05).Moira was reunited with her children.169Nancy:In 1990, Nancy was twenty-seven years old. She had one child adoptedout and had just given birth to a baby in Vancouver. The hospital social workeralerted the ministry that Nancy would need a homemaker. Homemaker servicewas authorized and the next day the homemaker attempted to see Nancy butshe was not at home. The homemaker alerted Emergency Services who in turncalled the social worker at home and then said they were "going to check St.Paul's hospital" (F14-02). It was unclear by the recordings why there was somuch concern about Nancy but nonetheless two days later the homemakersupervisor made the following report to the social worker:Homemaker Supervisor had the following concerns:-^mother came across as being very monotone -- flat, face lookedvery pale and may have been depressed. Mother told homemakerthat she is very concerned about her cat. Nancy has had the catfor three years and a social worker had once told her the cat wasdangerous and could smother the baby ... Nancy decided to have afriend take care of the cat for a while.mother also expressed her concerns... "what changes the baby willmake".. .Nancy had the baby in full sun (very hot day). Homemakersupervisor suggested she move the baby. Nancy is short of babyclothes, formula and stroller. Nancy did not express much warmthtowards the baby. (F14-04)The experiences of Nancy show how services put in place to "help" newmothers are used to investigate and gather evidence against them. Thelimitations of using a homemaker to assess a mother's capabilities isexemplified in the above recording. The report noted deficits in Nancy'smothering based on little information and one short visit. If Nancy wasconcerned about her cat, this shows an animal lover and a caring mother who170gives up her cat for her baby. It's also not clear what behaviors led thehomemaker to think Nancy was not expressing "much" warmth. Homemakertraining does not include assessment skills. Nancy's lack of clothing andformula could have had more to do with welfare rates that fall below thepoverty line than mismanagement of money, or lack of interest (editorial note:this past year I priced a stroller. The costs ranged from $142 to $320, includingtaxes. The welfare rate for food and clothing and diapers and anything elseneeded, for a mother and child, is $590).Even though a social worker was involved in this case and could havecontacted the financial aid worker, Nancy and her five day old baby had to fendfor themselve to get extra funds for formula and clothing: "Nancy will ask herFAW for formula and clothing monies" (F14-06).The concern about Nancy was finally brought out in the recordings.Nancy had been under psychiatric care in the past. Although Nancy "was veryopen in revealing this information" (F14-05) her capacity to mother becamesuspect. It was not clear from reading the file whether the social worker knewwhat the psychiatric history was because there is no diagnosis noted anywhere.Social Worker called Public Health Nurse and informed her of theconcerns. Also gave mother's background (psychiatrist) and askedPHN to check on mother and child on regular basis and to contactthe ministry if she has any concerns.(F14-08)Whether a social worker actually visited Nancy is not clear from therecords. But risk factors were noted anyway:171Risk factors: Nancy's history of psychiatric problems -- the lack ofwarmth shown towards the baby - the lack of supports amongNancy's family and friends - all of the above along with the needsof a newborn plus the chance of mother becoming depressed.(F14-10)How the chance of depression was deduced is, again, not clear because there isno written commmunication providing evidence that an assessment was madenor on what information the prognosis was based.Five months following the birth, an anonymous caller said she hadconcerns about Nancy's mothering. The complaints were detailed but there isno recording that shows whether there was evidence of neglect.During the next year Nancy often had her sister care for the baby. FromNancy, her sister, and further homemaker reports "it soon became evident ...that [Nancy] was able to provide for baby's basic physical needs but she wasstruggling in meeting baby's emotional needs" (F14-13).One year after the baby was born, Nancy signed a Short Term CareAgreement. In June, the baby was adopted out. The social worker wrote thatNancy "was positive this is best decision for baby and herself. She is stillstruggling with her depression and many childhood issues which still have anegative influence" (F14-12). What the childhood issues were was nevernoted.172Olqa:The case file of Olga, a Native woman who is married, was open foronly six months.The police called the ministry to apprehend when they found Olga'sseven year old boy alone. He said he had been alone for days and he thoughthis mother was drinking at a downtown eastside hotel. He did not know hisfather's whereabouts.Olga and her husband said they had left their son for some time one daybut that there had been a neighbour and uncle keeping their eye on the child.The family is Native, and it is common custom to have extended familymembers look out for children. At the court hearing the many family memberswho were closely connected to the family vouched for Olga's good motheringand her husband's good fathering. A six-month supervision order was granted.There was no further concern by the ministry about this family during the sixmonths, and the file was closed.173Patrice:Patrice was a twenty-two year old mother of a newborn baby when aministry worker wanted to refer her to Project Parent in 1988 because of her"rocky past". Patrice was agreeable. Patrice lived with her common-lawhusband in a basement suite in the home of her mother-in-law. The father ofthe baby was not asked to attend Project Parent.Shortly after that time a friend of her mother-in-law called to say thebaby was being neglected. The Public Health Nurse visited weekly and heroverall impressions were "that the baby is gaining weight extremely well, babyis relaxed and happy, mother handles infant well, and hygiene/housekeeping isokay" (F16-02).Patrice's partner was, however, abusive. He beat her and on oneoccasion tore up her apartment and stole money from her. He was sent to jailon another charge for seven years.About two and one-half years after the birth of Patrice's baby anotherprotection call came into the ministry. Patrice's baby had been apprehendedfrom a friend's home which "was cold and dirty. Little food and child has fleabites. Friend's own four kids are permanent wards" (F16-04). Her baby'scustody by the friend was explained by Patrice. She was afraid her mother-in-law would follow through on her threats to apply for custody of the baby andfrightened by this, "placed her child with friend" (F16-05).174Satisfied in the following months that Patrice was taking adequate careof the baby, the closing recording stated:Patrice seems to have stabilized over the last few months. Sheattended Project Parent only on one occasion, stating that she feltuncomfortable as she did not know anyone there. She did registerher daughter at a playschool ... .^ told me that she had notseen Patrice on the streets for a long time Patrice told me that shehas stopped hooking since she has a new man in her life ... (F1 6 -06).The social worker accepted this information at face value. The supervisionorder had expired and the file was closed.175Quinlynne:In 1990 when the ministry apprehended her four-year-old child,Quinlynne was a Native woman of twenty-three years. She had been staying ata transition house, having escaped her violent partner.Quinlynne left the transition house one night, leaving her daughter in thecare of one of the other residents. She phoned to say she would return thenext day, then failed to show. The police advised the transition house thatQuinlynne had been picked up for solicitation. On one occasion two monthsearlier, a playground leader informed the ministry that Quinlynne was drunk andher daughter had shown up without any breakfast. At that time they were sentto an alcohol treatment residence. This time Quinlynne's child was placed in alonger term foster home.Staff at the alcohol treatment centre noticed bruises on Quinlynne, andher daughter seemed afraid to go home. There were two other occasionswhere the ministry was called in because Quinlynne had left her daughter whileshe prostituted. The ministry advised Quinlynne to attend Project Parent and toget alcohol counselling. Her abuse by men and the trauma that the assaultswould have on Quinlynne's abilities to mother were not noted in the text.February:- Quinlynne keeps only about half her visits with her child- she attended Agape program one timeProject Parent now has opening but mother failed to attendby observing Quinlynne's missed appointments and her lack offollow up to programs -- likely mother has a drug or alcoholproblem (F17-06)176It was also noted that Quinlynne was often missing for weeks. Herdaughter remained in care and was eventually put into custody of her maternalgrandmother in the prairies through the Family Relations Act.177Alan:Alan is the only single male parent in the study sample. His file wasopened in 1984 when concerns about his son and daughter were expressed bythe school. His file spans seven years and, unlike similar cases in this studysample where the family was headed by a mother, he never had his childrenapprehended.The first intake listed a number of problems cited by school staff thatAlan's children were having:February, 1984: ...Kids seem to be having all sorts of problemssuch as- always late for school -- poor appearanceoften seem to be hungry -- neither have friendsdaughter isolated and depressed- talk about having no furniture- consistent arguing between them- bulk of housework is daughter's responsibilityFather may well benefit from some outside support.. .services for kids.Alan may be resistent although he is aware that a social worker will be incontact.Service Plan: No case made. (M01-01)Separately or together, many of these problems meet the criteria of being "atrisk" according to the Family and Child Service Act. Yet the social worker didnot follow up.The next intake is dated April, 1985. The school was not so concernedany longer, they appeared to the social worker to have "adopted a moreaccepting attitude toward this single parent family" (M01-02). The social178worker agreed that there was "not as much a concern as in February and in facteven has a ring of normality, given the family's situation" (M01-03).Such an understanding attitude is admirable. And unique. In theseventeen cases in this study which are documented above, most of whom aresingle parent mothers, not once were their family problems described as havinga ring of normality, given the circumstances.The mothers in the seventeen cases presented in this chapter were nevergranted a contextual relativity by the ministry for problems they or their childrenwere having, but Alan was:June, 1985: ...The school feels strongly that a referral is important[of son to psychologist for assessment].. .to date our involvementhas been attempts to be supportive. Alan has ... been somewhatdefensive and resistent to our input ... it seems Alan could benefitfrom some assistance ... as he is a hard working father with littletime on his hands. (F01-05) (emphasis added)This contextual relativity was granted even though, "son and daughter arelacking in supervision and general care.. .which may be at the bottom of someof the son's negative behavior" (M01-07). And yet, because Alan "was notable to recall that he had been advised to seek psychiatric help for his son",Alan would not do so until the following September when school was back insession and he could check on this advice. Again, no follow up was made bythe ministry.One year later, in October, 1986, Alan's son was still having problems.He had outbursts at school, "expressing exaggerated anger when provoked by a179classmate". The boy had to be restrained and then later sobbed for one-halfhour.October, 1986: Son has tension and frustration pented. This isnot an isolated concern about son. Over past two years similarconcern has been noted. Alan seems hesitant or unable to seek outa possible solution for son. Needs support to obtain some help forson's emotional outbursts. (M01-02)There was no service plan found in the file, presumably this was dropped aswere the complaints since 1984.Four years later Alan's son "got out of control at [school], beating thewalls and floor" (M01-09). Two months later Alan's son was "medicallyexcluded from school after throwing a fit" (M01-10). Still the ministry workersdid not intervene. Again, there were allowances made for Alan, presumablybecause he was a working, single father. A social worker remarked, "Alancares for his son but does not want son to be treated by a psychiatrist on anon-going basis ... Alan refused to meet to consider son entering alternate school(M01-12). The reason for closing the file at that time was that "son will not beattending alternate school so FS file need not be open" (M01-13).In December, eight months after the file was closed, it was re-openedwith this entry:December 18: Daughter was brought to [resource home] by policeyesterday as she was violent to herself and other people. Cannotstay at resource because she is only 18 ... she lives independently(M01-11).Neither child was apparently given services because father wouldn'tagree to it. And he was never challenged by a ministry which repeatedlychallenged mothers.180181CHAPTER EIGHTANALYSISMothers' Behaviors as Indicators of Child NeglectThe text of ministry files was analyzed to determine what observationsare being made about child neglect and what is being communicated. Duringthe coding process, I looked for text that named or alluded to child neglect tobegin conceptualizing the data. I asked the question, "what represents childneglect?"During the coding process, I found that the indicators of neglect wereless tangible than were the descriptions of the parents' behaviors. That is, thechildren in the case studies were predominantly healthy and well clothed andfed. They were not apprehended because they were exhibiting signs ofneglect, rather their mothers were exhibiting behaviors that were thought to berisk factors and therefore had the potential for neglect. The citation ofmothers' behaviors as indicators of child neglect is consistent with theliterature. Chapter two of this study notes that most authors and practitionerscite Polansky's (1981) definition which describes neglect as having occurred ifthe responsible parent allows a child to suffer or fails to provide the child withessential indredients for physical, intellectual, and emotional development. Onthe surface, it seems reasonable to target parental behavior as a risk factorbecause, indeed, if a parent does not exhibit responsible behavior a child couldfall down stairs, get burned from a hot iron, and so forth. Where it becomes182problematic is in the operationalization of "essential ingredients" and in theassumptions and biases underlying any interpretation of behavior. What thedata highlight is that child protection workers assess behaviors solely on theirclinical judgment that is steeped in gender, class, and cultural bias. Fran'sexperience is an example. Fran is a First Nations woman and her familycustomarily shared childcare and had close relationships. Fran sharedaccommodation with her sister which, in this context, was a cultural norm.Yet, the social worker thought Fran's choice to live with her alcoholic sisterwas an indication that Fran was a neglecting mother, even though she herselfwas staying dry and her children showed no signs of neglect.Another example is the assessment of Kathy's behaviors. She escapedher drunken and abusive husband one evening, and ran to a friend's home.Since her husband had never abused the children before, Kathy had no reasonto believe he would at that point, and therefore left the sleeping children withhim. When her husband, the father of the children, did leave the children alonethe next day while he went out looking for Kathy, the ministry was alerted by aneighbour and the children were subsequently apprehended. It was not thefather, however, who was held responsible for abandoning his children, it wasKathy. One could reasonably argue that she had not abandoned her children,especially when it is pointed out that she called in a babysitter the next day,probably because she couldn't trust the father to responsibly care for them.But what is being communicated about Kathy and, by association, all mothers1 83of families involved with the ministry for reasons of neglect, is that it is motherswho exhibit neglectful behavior, not fathers.The coding process did uncover some dimensions of neglect specific tothe children themselves. In the cases of mothers who were addicted and whogave birth to babies suffering Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, the babies weredefined as being in need of protection from neglect because of their physicalcondition. And Irene's daughter was locked in her bedroom by her step fatherwhich prevented her from getting something to eat when she was hungry in themorning. Another example is with the children of the single parent father,Alan. His children were described as hungry, stealing food, the daughterisolated and depressed, the son having a cold over a long period of time, andeach having a poor appearance.Neglect was also clearly spelled out when a child was left unattended,such as in the case of Donna. Her eight-year-old son was apprehended whenhe was found unattended in a downtown coffee shop at nine o'clock at night.There were also cases where the children's acting out behaviors indicatedpsychological disturbance. Donna's son and Alan's son were both thought toneed psychological help by shcool staff.During the coding procedures in which comparisons between case textwere made, the data show that the conceptulalization of neglect in the samplefocussed on the mothers' behaviors. In the case of Alan, who is the singleparent father, the child protection workers did not determine his parenting184behaviors to be a causal condition for his son's disturbed behavior in the sameway that they assessed neglect in the cases of the mothers. In his case,workers repeatedly contextualized the conditions and said Alan was doing thebest he could, given his situation. As the categories developed from theconceptualization of child neglect across the data, mother-blaming inassessment and intervention emerged as a central theme.Mother-blaming in Assessment and InterventionThe observations in this sample of child neglect cases, and the judgmentsdrawn from these observations, communicate the ideological notion thatwomen and women alone have to shoulder the responsbility of caring forchildren. Women in this study were clearly held responsible for the violence intheir lives, for their poverty, and for their inability to cope with those stressorsand others.Mother-blaming is both overt and intimated in communications. In thecase of Irene, the social worker communicated that Irene "chose an abusivepartner", as if she went out looking to be beaten and to have her daughtersexually abused. Irene's behavior upon discovering the sexual abuse wasappropriate (she immediately reported it) but she was nonetheless held suspectbecause of her inability to choose a better man. Anne was thought to besomehow responsible for her husband's physical abuse of her when thatviolence was framed by the social worker as "their volatile relationship" (F01-06).185Mothers' behaviors were targeted as indicators of risk when theirrequests for help by the ministry were classified as "protection" rather than"non-protection". This happened to Fran and Gloria, two First Nations women.There was neither evidence of neglect nor the likelihood of it because themothers were taking the necessary steps to prevent abuse or neglect fromhappening. The implication is that some mothers can't be trusted. Theconsequence is that a charge of child protection is left on their Family Servicefiles even when the call was for preventive services. It does matter to themother and to the community whether or not she is "found" to be neglectful:she and her children live with that stigma.By looking at gender in relation to the response by ministry workers, itbecame clear that little focus was given the men in the families. If the ministryresponse system virtually ignores the husbands and fathers even when they arepresent, then by implication women are seen as culpable. In the case of thesingle father, the only case in which a file is in the father's name, the speciousnature of the assessment process for child neglect comes into full bloom. Thefrequency with which Alan is afforded a social context as a constituent indetermining child neglect, and the absolute absence of it in the cases where theparent held responsible is the mother, suggests that gender does make adifference in attributing cause. Alan had a file opened with the ministry over aperiod of seven years, and yet not once during that time did social workers intervene to provide services to his children if Alan indicated he did not want186the services. And, unlike similar cases in this study sample where the familywas headed by a single mother, Alan never had his children apprehended. Thepoint is not that they should have been apprehended, but that Alan wasaccorded understanding and support not given any of the mothers.The coding procedure of developing categories showed that theinterventions that were made in relation to the mothers were not responsive toindividual needs. Whether a mother had a drinking problem, was distraughtbecause of a violent partner, or couldn't afford adequate housing or food, themost commonly used interventions were Short Term Care Agreements andHomemaker childcare. Based on the comments of the mothers, theseinterventions were deemed useful to most of them by providing respite care,but they were temporary in nature and did not address the presenting problems.As well, they played into the recurring theme of mother-blaming. The datashow that once the respite care intervention was put into place, the presentingproblem was no longer a point of focus for the social worker. The implication isthat the mothers' deficiencies were the causal conditions, not the indicators ofinadequate housing, or violent male partners, or addiction.One may argue that it is irrelevant how services come to be provided, aslong as the mothers and children are benefited by them. In fact, two UBCsocial work professors have made just this point in conversation with me. Isuggest that it does matter because what is being communicated about childneglect in file recordings reflects to the attitude that child neglect is rooted in187the individual deficiencies of mothers. In the case of Hannah, the distress anddepression she suffered when her own past of sexual abuse was triggered bythe knowledge that her daughter had been sexually abused, was not understoodat all. Her inability to meet her children's physical and emotional needs wasseen as neglect (F08-11) and she is thought to be unrealistic and thoughtblameworthy for putting aside her daughters' needs to meet her own needs(F08-12). Her courage in facing memories of childhood pain is notacknowledged, and the text shows no understanding of the normal process ofhealing from sexual abuse (McCannell, 1993).The women in this study were not seen as women, they were onlyviewed at mothers; mothers who were not accorded the right to have needs oftheir own.As the comparisons were made in the analytic procedures, thedimensions of interventions pointed to yet another prominent theme, one whichshows the Ministry of Social Services to be engaged in a policing role.Intervention as Policing StrategyThe axial coding procedure of making connections between categoriesshowed that interventions were also used to monitor the mother and gatherevidence. Homemakers and Public Health nurses were used in some cases tosupport or refute evidence of child neglect. But whether it was explained to themothers that the resource people played this role as well as service provider, isnot known. In the case of Nancy, the homemaker reports were critical in the188social worker assessment of risk factors that ultimately led to support of thedecision to put the baby up for adoption.The case studies also show that limited types of resources were utilizedby (or were made available to) social workers in response to circumstancessurrounding their assessments of child neglect. Few of the interventions couldbe considered "treatment" although interventions in this study were often called"treatment interventions", and often the mothers were already involved in sometreatment program or therapy (e.g. Alcoholics Anonymous, psychiatrist) whenthe ministry workers intervened in the family.In the cases of the families where the mothers were the targets of theintervention "treatments", there is nothing to indicate any measure of success.When a family comes to the attention of the ministry, the ministry staysinvolved for at least three months (the minimum length of a supervisory courtorder) if there is any concern that a child is at risk. Anne moved out of thecatchment area and it was for this reason that the file recorded: "No furtherservices requested at this time" (F01 - 10). Connie, the forty-four year oldmother of two teen daughters who may have been developmentally disabled,had her younger daughter in and out of Short Term Care Agreements for overthirteen years. During that time no assessment of Connie was done that mayhave helped the ministry understand her needs as a parent and intervene moreefficaciously. Hannah faced more blame than support from the ministry and, inspite of a social worker's assessment that Hannah was depressed and not189responding appropriately to her children, she managed to achieve her goals ofeducation, sobriety, and therapy for herself and daughters. And Hannah's filewas closed without mention of parenting deficits.In examining the case studies, it appears happenstance if any of the fileswere closed with assurance that the interventions made a difference. Annemoved out of the catchment area, Irene succumbed to the control and abuse bymen, Joan was a teen mother who lost two babies to aprehension, Lynne'sdaughter moved from being a child-in-care to being a teen mother who movedout on her own, and Moira was reunited with her children without anyindication that the ministry played a helping role.This discussion of the efficacy of ministry intervention suggests that theactions of the child welfare agency serve to police families more than to helpthem make beneficial changes. Two additional themes emerged as the datawere categorized, one of poverty as a context of child neglect and the other ofinstitutional racism.Poverty as a Context of Child NeglectHowever many times the point has been made in this study that povertyhas a strong correlation to child neglect, it must be understood that the causesof poverty are not the same for everyone. Ruth Sidel (1986), in her discussionon the feminization of poverty, says thatsome of the key causes of poverty among women arefundamentally different from the cause of poverty among men andthat the same remedies cannot, therefore, be implemented ... thelives of the vast majority of women relfect a very different reality.190Women's lives are inextricably bound up with caring for others...for men, for elderly parents, for grandchildren, for friends ... (p.25).Few of the women in the study had jobs, or partners with steady employment,and several were clearly noted to have been on income assistance (welfare).The impact on the mothers and their children from living on incomes below thepoverty line are stripped of subjective knowing. If alluded to at all, theconsequences of poverty are attibuted to inadequate mothering. For example,Kathy's one-bedroom apartment was noted as "inadequate living arrangements"and a risk factor in the social worker's assessment of Kathy's ability to giveadequate care to her children. What wasn't noted in the risk assessment wasthe reality of the vacancy rate (which at that time was less than one percent)and the gap between real market rents and the benefits allotted for shelter.When the mothers had to go to a foster home to visit their child(ren),their need for extra money for bus fare, or the organizing it takes to plan busroutes and walking time to see their children in the suburban areas where somany of the foster families reside, are not taken into account. When Kathy andher husband expressed to the social worker that they felt disrespected becausethey were poor, and that they often got discouraged because of poverty (F11-12), the social worker did not record her response, if in fact she respondedempathically.Whether any of the social workers understood the stressors of poverty isnot known. Social workers cannot make an intervention that targets an191economic risk factor because the B.C. child welfare legislation, discussed inChapter six, limits the assessment of child neglect to the deficiencies of theparent, not the deficiencies of the social institutions themselves. Thisconstraint in the legislation points to the fact that women, as the adjunct to themale dominated ruling apparatuses, have had their experiences in caringinterpreted and judged by those not traditionally involved in the labour of caring.Institutional Racism in Child Welfare PracticeIn the eighteen families in the study, seven mothers were identified asNative (39%). With First Nations people in B.C. totalling approximately twopercent of the population (Campbell, 1991), Native families are overrepresentedin the sample. The chapters in this study dealing with the theories of causationof child neglect and the historical developments of the family and motherhooddiscuss some of the factors which have led to First Nations families andchildren being targeted for intervention disproportionately to the mainstreampopulation. The case studies exemplify how the heritage of First Nationspeople and how their differing child rearing methods are ignored or, whenacknowledged in one case, are disparaged.The lives of Donna, Gloria, Kathy, Moira, Olga, and Quinlynne aresubjected to assessment by ministry workers without any mention of theiraboriginal ancestry. Although their files are check-marked "Native" thisprocedure is followed only to alert staff that in the case of apprehension, if thefamily has the designated status, the Indian Band would have to be notified.192There is no consideration of culture in the families' needs, or the culturaldifferences in child rearing, or how this country's racist policies are woven intothe antecedents of presenting problems. Nothing in the text indicates thesefamilies are of First Nations origin.In Fran's case, her aboriginal heritage is commented upon but in adeprecating way. Her family is described as a "multi-generation multi-problemnative Indian family" (F06-02). She and her sister are warned and given"lectures" by the social workers about their alcohol abuse and "resultant childneglect". The recording social worker says, "but the girls own experience oflife in their society, and the abilities of their extended family networks toprovide barely tolerable levels of care for their children have preventedapprehensions up until now" (F06-03). The social worker alleged Fran "playedtourist in Seattle" when she was supposed to have her son only for a few hoursyet this researcher's experience working with First Nations people is that theirextended families reach down into the States, defying the border as a boundaryof nations. It is quite likely that Fran was visiting with family. Although itcould be argued that regardless of why Fran was in Seattle, she was only tohave her son away for a few hours, this response still lacks an understanding ofpeople's family ties. For First Nations people, or for other people who arecoping with stressors of structured dislocation, an arbitrary time frame based onsomebody else's schedule often does not meet their own financial and socialneeds.193There is no mention of workers trying to find First Nations foster homesfor any of the children who were either apprehended or put into Short TermCare. The issue is not raised in any of the data.In the case of Irene, her husband was a man of Colour, presumablyBlack. Yet, social worker recordings made a point of denoting men of Colourbeing present at home visits by social workers. Some examples are: "..when Iarrived ...black friend playing with the baby... "(F09-66); "Irene asleep, anotherblack male asleep on couch" (F09-64); "Found her and [partner] in apartment ofW. Indian friends downstairs.. "(F09-45). One can't help but draw theconclusion that the recordings were of a racist nature: that is, if Black menwere present then the worker thought this additional evidence that Irene wasinvolved in illegal acts of drugs and prostitution.Violence as a Feature of ControlUsing the transactional system of analysis advocated by Strauss andCorbin (1990), which examines "action/interaction in relationship to theirconditions and consequences" (p. 158), the violence perpetrated by menagainst women and women's victimization as children when they are sexuallyabused by male family members emerges as a salient feature in the casestudies. Seven of the mothers were either sexually assaulted in their childhoodby men in their family (some sexually assaulted by other men as well) orphysically assaulted by their male partners as adults. Five other women in thestudy had resorted to or had been forced into prostitution (Betty, Irene, Moira,194Patrice, and Quinlynne), with the consequence of sexual assault and violenceendangering their lives. Well over the majority of the mothers in this study had to contend with men who loomed over them with threats and acts of violence.What is also evident in the theme of violence as a feature of control isthe subjugation of teenage girls by men in their families and by their boyfriends.Joan and the daughters of Lynne, Connie, Donna, and Alan all move from beingchildren victimized by male parents or male parental figures to being controlledby their boyfriends or assaulted by other males. Many of them end up beingteen mothers, repeating the cycle of oppression of their own mothers.The analysis put forward by Reitsma-Street (1991) of the policing andsocial control of girls and women was discussed in Chapter five. Reitsma-Street talks about the notion of a cycle of oppression, first as girl children, thenas adolescents, then as mothers. Her research shows that girls seriouslyrestrict the development of their own interests and independence, and thatsexual assault, unwanted pregnancy, poverty and dependency can characterizetheir lives. This rings true for the young women in the study. The rulingapparatuses of the child welfare system play a role in this cycle insofar asbureaucratic procedures contribute to objectified knowledges of women'sexperiences.Objectified Knowledges in Child NeglectFor young women (teenagers) who moved from dependency on the childwelfare system as minors to dependency on the other arm of the Ministry of195Social Services as teenage "welfare" mothers, I noted that the child welfaresystem continued its influential role in the cycle of oppression discussed above.The data in this study show that at first the child welfare system acted as the"protector" of these girl children (although the data also show that in mostcases the men who abused or threatened the teenagers were not challenged).And then, when these girl children become teen mothers, they played out therole that their own mothers had: their behaviors became suspect when a socialworker looked for evidence that these "girls" could not adequately mother theirnew babies.During the course of examining the data, I made memos as I was sortingconcepts and developing categories. It was in the process of sorting memosthat I saw clearly how women's experiences were made objectifiedknowledges. To explain how women's experiences in this study were madeobjectified knowledges, I will take the feature of violence that is a commonthread in the case studies and discuss how the experiences of women with thatviolence are made invisible by the ruling apparatuses or used as evidence inblaming mothers.It is in the context of physical violence and sexual assault that most ofthe women in this study carried out their role as "mother". Seen in thiscontext, these women's bodies had to undergo the trauma of sexual assaultand physical assault, their psyches inundated by these bodily invasions and egodestroyers. And then, because they were mothers, they were expected to live196up to the patriarchal institution of motherhood. How can women be expectedto do this when they are still reverberating from such horrifying andburdensome experiences? They had to immediately rally, presenting to thechild welfare authorities behavior that indicated adequate mothering, for fearthat their children would be apprehended.What these experiences of women highlight is how they, as women, aretorn apart first by violence, and then torn apart emotionally when they lose theirchildren to apprehension. The imagery is one of dislocation; fragments ofwomen suspended in an environment in which they have no control. Theprocesses which dislocate women are the ones to which Dorothy Smith (1990)refers when she talks of the objectified knowledges: women have theirexperiences stripped of the subjective and made a separate objective category.The bureaucratic procedures of investigation, intervention, and apprehension,and the forms of communication and action which strip women's experiencesof the subjective are mediated by texts, the texts which make up ministry files.In the development of this study I was reminded by my thesis committeeof the absolute silence of the mothers in this study. During the child neglectinvestigations the social workers do not explore, nor do they factor into theirassessments the explanations of the mothers. In her research into post partumdepression, Sandra Knight (1992) identifies the deprivation of mothers,sactioned by the patriarchal institution of motherhood, as being central to theexperience of depression in mothers (p. 19). Knight says that the work of197mothers is unrecognized and mothering involves a tremendous workload. Jobstress, again not recognized in domestic labour, is another factor noted byKnight. "Mothers get pulled in several directions at once" (p. 25) and whenthey finish a day of motherwork, it has to be done all over again. Loss ofidentity and low self-esteem point to the fallacy that mothering is an importantjob, a myth perpetuated about women's "labour of love".Even when a mother can give a reasonable explanation of thecircumstances that led the ministry to investigate alleged child neglect, as in thecase of Kathy, her words go unacknowledged. Kathy left her children at hometo escape her abusive husband whom she knew was not abusive to thechildren, and called in a babysitter the next day to look after the children. Yet,she was still thought by the social worker to have abandoned her children.Kathy was held culpable. I suggest that the bureaucratic procedures of theministry, which strip the reality of women's experiences and make themobjectified, serve to uphold the ideological notion that women should have soleresponsibility for children and that they are blame-worthy for anything that goeswrong in the family. The communications of the ministry in their files are adiscourse that mediates power relations by constructing child neglect in such away as to locate responsiblity with the mother.I have argued in this study that the dominant ideologies in the westernworld influence our ways of thinking about mother-child relations, determinewhat we believe constitutes a family, and inform conceptual practices in the198child welfare system The discourse of child neglect theory, which is critiquedin Chapter five, is shown to reflect the dominant ideologies, and the mother-blaming inherent in it is found woven throughout the text analyzed in thisstudy. And it influences the development of our child protection laws. Thenarrow focus of child protection legislation is narrow in part because of thedominant ideologies which locate child neglect in the pathology of the mother,and not in the social structures that are built upon inequality of gender, class,and 'race'. Social workers, as with families, get caught in the child welfaresystem and are subject to the conceptual practices of the ruling apparatuses.The narrow focus of the legislation does influence the approach taken by socialworkers, and they may unwittingly find themselves serving more to policemothers than to help. The implications of the findings in this study for socialworkers are discused next.199CHAPTER NINEIMPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL WORK PRAXISThe analysis in this study gave ample evidence of women caring for theirchildren in overwhelming social and economic circumstances. What washighlighted as the themes emerged were the ways in which mothers and theirchildren fell victim to the service delivery system, a system in which theassessment of child neglect and the types of intervention made by child welfareauthorities served more to police than help. How the needs of children andtheir mothers were conceived and to what extent the families benefited fromchild welfare intervention were constrained by limited resources but also by theideological notions of women's caring that informs the narrow mandate of thelegislation and acts to influence social work practice.Ruth Sidel talks about the "culture lag" of the notion that a woman willbe taken care of by a man. The reality of women's lives does not reflect thisidea any more, yet it is still being promoted by virtually all of the socialinstitutions of our culture (Sidel, 1986). It is in this way that social policy canbe implemented in a response to a need and then found of little help because itis based on false assumptions about social relations. This is what Gillian Pascall(1986) means when she says "The assumption that all was well within thefamily is a legacy which survives in social administration" (p. 12). Theconsequences, Pascall remarks, is that "the Welfare State has so often beenfound not merely inadequate, not merely short of resources and short of vision,200but often inhumane in its treatment of those to be 'helped' ..." (p. 12). I thinkthis study has provided evidence of this, exemplifying the ways in which ithappens.Pascall's phrase, "The assumption that all is well within the family", hasa wealth of meaning behind it. It brings back into focus the complexrelationships that exist within a family, relationships that are still premised onthe concept of the division of labour, with a man firmly placed as the head ofthe household and woman subordinate. Pascall continues:But 'support for the family' in social policy can almost always beinterpreted to mean support for the most rigidly demarcatedbreadwinner/dependent model of the family ... (Pascall, 1986, p.68).Pascall raises the point that it is the ideology of familism underlying socialpolicy that decides "such questions as whether -- or at what age -- the raisingof children is 'educational' and part of the public world, or whether it isnurturing and a 'private responsibility" (p. 68).The implications of the predominance of familism for social policydevelopment is that how problems of child nelgect are defined are based, noton women's experience as mothers, but on an ideology predicated on theoriesin which male dominance is a given and which ensures its protection.Swift (1991) maintains that the division of labour which accords care ofchildren solely to women and the role of the state as parens patriae results in achild welfare system that has little energy for preventive services because it is201focused on investigation, intervention and legal processes. The B.C. Family andChild Service Act limits its scope to protecting children from their parents(mothers). The Family and Child Service Act does not acknowledge risk factorsarising from the systemic inequalities in a capitalist patriarchy. Rather, childprotection concerns are focussed at the individual level.Dale and Foster (1986) argue that individual casework with deprivedfamilies "is often a form of social control over women rather than a means ofsupport for them" (p.101). Hanmer and Statham (1988) strongly agree: "...another example of institutionalzied sexism [is] where women social workersare called upon to reinforce women's responsibilities as wives, mothers andcarers, and to ignore the poverty and employment issues facing women clients"(p. 40).In a study done by Callahan and Attridge (1990) child welfare socialworkers talked of the difficulties which investigations caused: "... workers wereexpected to carry out two crucial investigations ... First ... they had todetermine if an offense had occurred, whether under the Criminal Code or theFamily and Child Service Act or both. Second, they had to assess whether thechildren could live safely in their own home ... At once the worker was theprosecutor of the offender, defender of the children and judge of the mother"(p.42). It was clear in this study that social workers and mothers were put atodds and that "child welfare work divides women from within and from eachother" (p.43). The notion of dividing women into "them" and "us" is reiterated202by Levine and Estable (1981). They note that social worker mothers "are notimmune to the effects of the motherhood prescription in their own lives ... if weadmit to ourselves that we don't achieve [being the ideal mother] -- GUILT. Wesense the potentially frightening reality that there aren't, after all, validdistinctions between ... social worker mothers and client mothers" (p.32).It is this notion of dividing women into "them" and "us" whichconfounded my work as an advocate with mothers fighting the child welfaresystem. As a social worker and a feminist, I could not objectify my clients as"them"; my clients and I had more in common as women than we haddifferences as social worker/client. The problematic faced in child welfarepractice is the complete disregard by the child welfare system for the fact thatchildren's welfare is inextricably bound to the welfare of women. And thewelfare of women is located in the relations of ruling.Social workers are trained to believe in the efficacy of social workinterventions. Yet, the training is biased. For example, the methodology of acounselling technique is understood by the worker; and she is familiar with childwelfare literature, theories about neglect, approaches to intervention, and theinterviewing process. The recipients of social work, on the other hand, lackthis knowledge base. They rely on their own experiences to make sense ofsocial work interventions. The research done by Mayer and Timms (1970)explicates how the client's perceptions differ from those of the social worker.In relation to insight-oriented counselling techniques, Mayer and Timms found203that clients had misconceptions about why social workers were asking for afamily history and did not realize that their workers would approach problemsdifferently than themselves:Mrs. Hastings stated that the worker was trying to 'take thepressure off'. She was convinced the worker was shifting thefocus away from her current difficulties with her husband to amore pleasant topic in order to relax her ... Another client ...assumed that the purpose of the questions was to learn howdeserving she was: once the worker learned how difficult her lifehad been, he would understandably be more anxious to help.(Mayer and Timms, 1970, p.72)Rhodes (1986) alludes to this when she raises the dilemma ofconfidentiality in practice: "One basic problem ... is that the nature of therelationship was not adequately spelled out at the beginning [of the casework]nor redefined as it changed" (p.70). She also points out how unusual arelationship is between a citizen and her social worker: "To be asked to 'trust'and talk openly to a stranger who has power over your life is an oddsituation..." (Rhodes, 1986, p.70). In a cultural context, it is not only an oddsituation but a racist one if such disclosure is not a cultural norm for the client.Hanmer and Statham (1988) wrote a book about women-centred socialwork practice because they believe there is a strong need to reframe "therelevance of gender to social work ... The contradictions and paradoxes thatgovern women's lives are ill understood by social work educators and in socialwork practice" (p.1). Parton and Parton (1989) note that even though child204protection policy and practice is increasingly recognizing the relationshipbetween social inequality and child abuse and neglect, the "dangerousconditions are viewed as indicators of abuse rather than targets forintervention" (p. 45).In the analysis of the data in this study, the absolute silencing of womennot asking them for their frames of reference or their understanding of eventsmeant that the social workers were not at all in tune with what the motherswere experiencing in relation to the interventions. If social workers are to takeinto consideration mothers' real experiences with the ruling apparatuses, theneeds of women will have to a component of assessment.But how do we as social workers reframe the relevance to social work ofgender, as well as 'race' and class and other determinants of social inequality?Lena Dominelli and Eileen McLeod (1989) delineate four main spheres of socialwork that have a "valuable contribution to make to welfare" in their criticalexamination of social work practice. These are:* Redefining social problems from a feminist perspective* Working in feminist campaigns and networks* Feminist therapy and counselling* Creating a feminist statutory social work205I will not address each sphere in this discussion, although each is equally validand crucial. I will direct the reader to the first and last because of the nature ofchild protection as a statutory service.Redefining social problems from a feminist perspective is exemplified inthe analyses presented in this study in which women's experiences ofmotherhood are understood from the site of women's experiences as opposedto the objectified knowledges of the ruling apparatuses. Feminist analysis giveslife to the struggle and stress embodying motherwork within a patriarchal state.The problem is not, "How do mothers come to neglect their children?". Rather,feminists define the problem as it exists in reality: "How do we support womenas mothers and work together to transform the destructive patriarchalinstitutions that debilitate generation after generation of women and children?"In statutory social work, we must develop ways of helping our womenclients gain a sense of themselves within systems that devalue women andtheir labour. In her discourse on taking women students seriously, AdrienneRich (1979) explores how women teachers have two choices: to lend weight tothe indoctrination of women to passivity, self-depreciation, and a sense ofpowerlessness, or to consider what they have to work against, in themselvesand in their students, in curriculum content, the structure of the institution, andso forth. To pursue the latter, Rich says, meanstaking ourselves seriously: Recognizing that central responsibilityof a woman to herself, without which we remain always the Other,the defined, the object, the victim; believing that there is a unique206quality of validation, affirmation, challenge, support, that onewoman can offer another. (p. 240)If we re-read this passage, only think "social worker and client", rather than"teacher and student" (although we are all teachers and students to each otherin this exploration of power relations), we begin to see what Rich means abouttaking ourselves and other women seriously.Dominelli and McLeod (1989) suggest that a social worker, in keepingwith an egalitarian feminist interaction with her client, would present herself asa resource to be drawn on by the client in the interest of the client's ownwelfare (p. 116). At every turn, the feminist social worker would work with herclient to maximize resources (as opposed to being the expert), and engage indiscussion which would give a social analysis of the problem experienced bythe client. Social workers would value themselves and their women clients aswomen. Discovering all the ways our lives are similar to our clients, andacknowledging and respecting all the ways in which our lives are different(economically and ethno-culturally, for example) can maintain the feministintegrity we are working towards. I believe this kind of practice can counteractthe dominant ideologies by the very nature of redefining what it is to be a socialworker and what it is that is the social "problem". There are no simple anddiscrete actions that can dramatically change the present systems, including thebelief systems that tell us what a good mother is and isn't. We can, however,refuse to collaborate in perpetuating these systems by finding ways of workingaround them.207In summary, this study has examined a series of discourses and textualanalysis which show how the bureaucratic processes of the child welfaresystem strip women's experiences of the subjective, and perpetuate the notionthat child neglect is rooted in the deficiencies of mothers. When child neglectis viewed from a perspective of women's experiences in everyday life, andexamined utilizing feminist frameworks, the conclusions that are reached differsubstantially from traditional approaches. Such an understanding of women'sexperiences could lead to far reaching economic changes and socialarrangements.It is through the conceptual procedures of the ruling apparatuses -- thesocial construction of child neglect -- that the relations of ruling are maintained.And the ruling apparatuses that shape social policy, as this study has argued,mediate protection not only of the power relations of gender but also those of'race' and class.If social work practice is to respond to clients' experiences in theeveryday world, we will have to actively work towards change within theprofession. We will have to acknowledge how women are stripped of theirsubjective knowing in the bureaucratic processes of assessment andintervention. We will have to understand that the ruling apparatuses makewomen's experiences objectified knowledges, completely devaluing the caringlabour we lovingly give, as well as the labour that we have extracted from us,often brutally by men or coercively by the state. And we will have to208understand how women social work students are stripped of their ways ofknowing in the bureaucratic processes of education, which leads to yet anotherset of objectified knowledges, which yet again serves the relations of ruling.Feminist research in social work is being done, is being encouraged (bysome, and in spite of the academy's resistance), and is opening ways forwomen's voices to be heard. We need further feminist research to identify theways in which social work education and social work practice situations act tomediate the relations of ruling. And from this, develop teaching methodologiesto help social workers gain an awareness of their own gender, 'race', and classbiases. And we will have to implement changes in child welfare policy,administration, and practice to reflect the subjective knowing to which we haveopened ourselves.Yet, social work research, education, practice, and policy developmentare not discrete components of work. It would be a contradiction in terms toseparate out these "areas" in the course of developing change within a feministframework. In a paper on "The Single Mothers Housing Network", McCannel!,Lumb and McNicoll (in press) explain that praxis links the "personal and politicalrealities" and "moves beyond [a] focus on 'things' ... to a focus on processesand the ways in which interaction occurs". Noting McCannell's explication that"feminist social work praxis builds on self-in-relation understandings ofdevelopment, knowledge of social network processes, and understanding of thedynamics of social movements", the authors use the imagery of a spiral to209describe the building of knowledge and the practice of social work. 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