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Housing conditions in relation to child protection : a descriptive examination of significant family cases from the Children's Aid Society and the City Social Service Department, Vancouver, 1956 Daggett, Jessie Catherine

Abstract

There are many reasons for child neglect, and many variables in the family circumstances from which the need for child protection or removal arises; but in recent years bad housing has not been given the prominence it demands. Improvements in institutions, new treatment centres, modern school facilities, point up the contrast, when bad housing and demoralizing neighbourhoods place heavy burdens on marginal families, and handicap social services which attempt to be restorative. To gain some perspective on family conditions associated with protection cases, active or potential, a small group of examples were chosen for detailed study; four from the Children's Aid Society and four from the City Social Service Department, Vancouver. All live in a semi-industrialized slum area, where there is general deterioration, and the housing is inadequate. Each family has an average of five children, ranging in age from one to sixteen years. Three of the families live in rented suites, and five in rented houses. Both parents are in the home, in all but two of the families. The information for the study was obtained from personal interviews with the families, from agency case records, discussions with the social workers to whom the families are presently known. The resulting "word pictures" portray the home life and social environment, having special reference to child neglect and substandard family life. The various aspects of family life are described with special emphasis on the families' present housing conditions, their previous accommodation, economic status, the neighbourhood, the general health of the family, and their attitude in regard to present housing conditions. This is followed by an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the families, their interests and activities, the children's progress at school, and the use made of social services in the community. A major implication of the study is that more adequate low-rent housing is urgently needed, particularly for families with a large number of children. If the parents, and especially the children, are to benefit fully from the educational, health and welfare services of the community, a good home which is a basic need, must be provided or made available. It is hoped that this study will serve as an introduction for further research into family living conditions, of more thorough examination of the influences which bear on children in neglected homes and neighbourhoods, as part of the process of creating a sound base from which social services can operate.

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