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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Decisions of removal or retention in child neglect cases : an analysis of the reasons for decision in the cases of twenty disturbed children known to family and childrens' agencies in Vancouver Campbell, Doreen Evelyn


The subject of this study is the disturbed child, who has been emotionally and physically neglected. The area of concern is the agency's decision whether to continue service with the child removed from his own family, or with the child retained in his family. For the welfare of the child, it is essential that the caseworker, drawing on the growing body of knowledge regarding parent-child relationships and on her own individual skill, make the choice which will give the child the greatest opportunity for normal development. The seriousness of the child's disturbance, the parents' attitude and maturity, the quality of other feelings, must all be carefully weighed in this difficult decision. Several obstacles to an objective decision are present. These are the quality of the caseworker's skill, the inadequacies of the protection of children's act, and the existence of some administrative limitations. With these handicaps to casework already in mind, the actual reasons for the decision, as they became apparent from a comparison of ten removed children and ten retained children, were considered. A number of factors were found to be more often the determinants of the decision than the caseworker's careful assessment of the parent-child relationship. These were (a) the parents’ and the community's awareness of a problem, (b) the disturbing events produced by the child's behaviour, rather than the emotional deprivation, (c) the amount rather than the quality of parents' rejection, (d) the professed function of the agency (whether specializing in children's or family service) in which the child neglect case appeared. Accordingly, an overall implication of the study is the need to strengthen procedures which offset this tendency for agencies to let circumstances be the determinant and which will place more responsibility for the decision on the caseworker and her professional assessment.

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