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Welfare aspects of desertion : a casework evaluation of the effects of desertion on family life, based on a sample group of cases from public and private agencies Gerrie, Catherine Lorraine

Abstract

The present study examines welfare problems of desertion of one parent of either sex, from the standpoint of both public and private welfare agencies. Deserted families come to the attention of welfare societies because of economic need, marital problems, and maladjusted children in their homes. The public agency may provide (a) temporary financial assistance while endeavouring to contact the deserter, and (b) protection services for the children in the home. Generally, the focus of the private agency is on (a) the marital problem and (b) the preservation of the home for the children, as well as (c) the exploration of resources within the community. Frequently, however, permanent plans can not be worked out due to the sporadic periods of desertion, and the family situation continues to deteriorate. This study is based on thirty records of deserted families from the Family Welfare Bureau of Vancouver, and twenty-five public agency records relating to Regina, from the Child Welfare Branch of Saskatchewan. The sample was confined to cases in which temporary or permanent desertion appeared to be the focal problem; and, in all cases studied, there were children in the home. The material used includes the files kept by the agencies on each case. The cases were studied and evaluated from three welfare viewpoints. The contact of the private or public agency on the deserter is vitally important for its influence on the outcome of the home situation; nevertheless, it is difficult to assess it, because the type of recording does not usually lend itself to a detailed analysis of the reaction between the client and the worker. The effects of desertion in the financial area can be evaluated in a more objective manner, from the effects on the family and the methods by which economic assistance were given. The third part of the study examines what happens to children in homes broken by desertion. From the group surveyed, children from twenty-five families were placed temporarily or permanently for periods varying from three months to permanent wardship (twenty-one years in Saskatchewan). The financial cost of the dependency of these children for each family studied would approximate $2400.00 per family. But this does not take into consideration the cost of maintaining the broken families on a public assistance level, nor the costs of lives damaged by desertion. There is evidence that the problems inherent in homes broken by desertion could be helped by (a) education for marriage, (b) better professional guidance from social and legal agencies, and (c) an expanding and more effective, community programme for family groups.

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