UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The development of the public child welfare program in Saskatchewan Johnson, Helen Louise


The first tangible indication of a provincial responsibility for dependent and neglected children in Saskatchewan was recognized by the Children's Protection Act passed in 1908. The objective of this thesis has been to collect and record the available information pertaining to the development and growth of the government department to which the responsibility for dependent and neglected children was assigned. The project has been limited to specific branches of child welfare, services to children in their own homes, services to unmarried parents, ward care, and adoptions. Juvenile delinquency, another function of the government agency, has not been included. The material used in the study included provincial statutes, annual reports (those for the years 1920, 1921, 1922, 1933, and 1934 are missing), and publicized information supplemented by interviews with agency personnel. The study was not intended as a legislative analysis. The aim has been to present the actual practices and standards of service offered by the public agency to the children in need of protection. Planning for the child welfare services in Saskatchewan was patterned in the first place after the organization existing in Ontario. Through the years there have been modifications to accommodate that pattern to the needs of a scattered rural population. Saskatchewan has looked to the longer established agencies for inspiration and the benefit of their experience in the field of child welfare. New programs have been added commensurate with similar advancements in other Canadian provinces. During the past five years the public agency in Saskatchewan has taken more initiative, and now accepts responsibilities for children greater, perhaps, than those assumed in any other Canadian province. These efforts have aroused a new interest in the program and won a place for Saskatchewan as a pioneer in the field of child welfare. The study reflects, as always, the conflict between the awareness of sound child welfare standards and the difficulties of finance and personnel so necessary to put those standards into effect. The prolonged depression of the 1930's, perhaps, did more than any other factor to emphasize the need for social security measures to counteract the vulnerability of the Saskatchewan people to the agricultural economy. The new period in child welfare is characterized particularly by the increasing emphasis upon a casework approach in all fields of welfare. It is hoped that the collection, co-ordination, and recording of the history of the Child Welfare Branch will be of value to the agency involved in future evaluations of the services provided to children in the light of past experience.

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