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Planning non-ward care for children of mentally ill parents : an analysis of decisions made by the Children's Aid Society of Vancouver in the years 1957 to 1959 Kolodinski, Elsie

Abstract

This study makes an analysis of those situations in which children of mentally ill parents were taken into non-ward care by the Children's Aid Society of Vancouver, B.C., in the years 1957 to 1959. The purpose of the study is to determine the characteristics of the families to whom this service was given, what factors influenced planning, the significance of the factor of mental illness, and whether the plan achieved its stated purpose. In the twenty-four family cases studied, there was a combined total of fifty-six children. Only thirty-six of these children were taken into non-ward care. The majority of families included two parents in the home, and in these instances the parents made greater use of their own resources. The major factor necessitating the use of non-ward care was found to be the hospitalization of the mother for psychiatric treatment. Planning for the care of the children was significantly influenced by emergency referrals, which gave little time to caseworkers to assess the family situation prior to placement of the child. Twenty-nine children were returned to their parents. Twenty-two of these were returned within six months. Most of these families were unknown to the Children's Aid Society prior to the request for non-ward care and showed considerable parental capability. Seven children were either made wards or were placed for adoption. In these instances the parents revealed recurring social dysfunction and parental incapacity. Their children remained in non-ward care for longer periods of time than the first group before a future plan was made. The results of the study are discussed with reference to non-ward care policy of the Children's Aid Society and to basic child welfare concepts. Some reference is made to non-ward care and temporary ward care legislation of other provinces. Some assessment is made about non-ward care. Non-ward care was found to be an invaluable service to families, but this resource must be used judiciously or grave damage to the child and the child-parent relationship may result. Implications of the study are discussed with reference to (a) the caseworker and practice, (b) community planning, and (c) non-ward care theory.

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