From Policy to Research to Policy: Introduction to Special Section on Child Welfare Issues In Ontario, Canada

Ante Cuvalo, Christine Wekerle

The adoption and implementation of the UNCRC across the globe has taken many forms in various countries, as some develop legislations, national policies, and amend current provisions to work towards eliminating all forms of child violence by 2030, as outlined by SDG 16. Systemic disparities pertaining to international conflicts, power dynamics, and resource limitations hinder the progress of achieving SDG 16. This frequently restrains reporting standards, organization development, and just aid to maltreated children. In terms of the Canadian landscape, Canada acts as a pathfinder country in the adoption of the UNCRC, as it has implemented numerous studies and initiatives in an attempt to end child maltreatment. However, systemic racism, overrepresentation of marginalized communities, and a lack of support for youth as they age-out of care persists in the Canadian child welfare system. While the Ontario child welfare system shares similar struggles, they have made strides in the fields of child maltreatment reporting and data collection, as well as trends and problem identification through the Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect.

In this article, the authors present considerations related to the global mandate for child protection and the challenges that persist amongst marginalized communities. Subsequently, they focus on Canada and, in particular, the Ontario example: the trends from the Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (OIS). This child welfare epidemiological project has highlighted the need for greater intersectional adjustments to best protect children, where the iterative research-policy cycle has most effectively been seen with a formal system for the inclusion of lived experience, as in the case of Indigenous peoples.