Date of Award

Fall 2012

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)

Department

Social Work

Supervisor

Sheila Sammon

Co-Supervisor

James Gladstone

Language

English

Committee Member

Jane Arenson

Abstract

ABSTRACT

The landscape of Child Welfare inOntariohas changed over the past several years. One area of significant change is that increasingly children are placed with relatives (kin) when it has been determined that they cannot be safety cared for by a parent or guardian. This change was brought about by new legislation and with it came a number of standards and processes to guide front line workers work with kin.

The purpose of this research study was to gain a better understanding of how this change impacted front line workers. The research focused on what influenced the work and considered individual, institutional and systemic factors. It was undertaken in order to gain a clearer appreciation of the successes and challenges in working with kinship caregivers.

Five child welfare workers who work directly with kinship services caregivers were interviewed. Qualitative research methods were utilized so that participants could share the direct experience of their work. This research used a Critical and Interpretive social science framework to gain a better understanding of the systemic and societal influences that guide the work.

The findings suggest that while this work is highly regarded and valued by the participants, they struggle with their role in supporting and advocating for kin. On one hand, they support kin but on the other, they present as worried about such care. They question what is behind the Ministry Of Children and Youth Services movement to greater consideration of kin. They bring forward very important concerns about inequities in the distribution of resources to support children who are not able to live with their parents or guardians.

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