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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An analysis of variables in child protection apprehensions and judicial dispositions in British Columbia child welfare practice Campbell, James Floyd


This study analyzes variables in the child protection apprehensions and judicial dispositions within the British Columbia child welfare system. The study was based on a 10% sample of children apprehended into care of the B.C. Superintendent of Family and Child Service in 1989. It includes the following specific objectives: 1) To review reasons children were being apprehended into care and develop a socio-economic and demographic profile of these children and their families. 2) To determine percentages of congruence between social workers' recommendations to the court and judicial dispositions at the first two stages of child protection court proceedings. 3) To identify factors which impact case outcomes and account for discrepancies between social workers' recommendations and judicial dispositions. 4. To explore the policy and practice implications of the research findings. The profile of the apprehended children illustrated that a majority came into care for reasons characteristic of neglect by omission rather than abuse by commission. Reasons for admission to care appeared to be related to the age and sex of the child, as well as family constellation. In analyzing the relationships between the reasons for the child's apprehension in comparison to the parents' social, economic and educational status, it was demonstrated that children were predominantly apprehended from households headed by parents with limited education, low income and/or semi-skilled employment. Single female parents, parents on income assistance, aboriginal families, younger families, living in multiple dwellings, were statistically over-represented when compared to the general population. The majority of court hearings proceeded within the time-frames set out in B.C. child protection legislation. The social workers' recommendations to the court were statistically associated with the judicial dispositions at the initial presentation to the court, and only slightly less so at the protection hearing. Whether the parents attended court and had legal counsel played a significant role in influencing the court's disposition, particularly at the protection hearing. Judicial support for the social workers' recommendations varied depending on the order sought, the highest percentage of agreement being when social workers recommended the child be in parental care, and the lowest when recommending the child become a permanent ward. The thesis draws on these research findings, concluding with research and policy recommendations to facilitate child protection practice in British Columbia.

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