First Nations children and disparities in transfers to ongoing child welfare services in Ontario following a child protection investigation

Jennifer Ma, Barbara Fallon, Ramona Alaggia, Kenn Richard - Children and Youth Services Review


First Nations children are overrepresented in the Ontario child welfare system and there are disparities across decision points in the investigation process (Ma, Fallon, & Richard, Child Abuse & Neglect, 90 (2019), 52–65). The current study comprises a secondary analysis of the 2013 Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect and focuses on the decision to provide ongoing child welfare services. Specifically, identifying the drivers of the decision to transfer a case to ongoing services, and how these factors vary between investigations involving First Nations children and investigations involving White children. Overall, the results indicate that caregiver functioning concerns were the main drivers for workers' decisions to transfer cases to ongoing services. The functioning concerns identified for First Nations children and their caregivers are a result of colonization and the legacy of the residential school system. In the current study, ethno-race was not found a predictive factor; rather, it may affect service provision through differential decision-making for specific groups of children and youth. Cases involving First Nations children were more likely to have been previously opened and re-opened for investigation sooner. It appears that First Nations families are not receiving the services necessary to prevent re-entry into the system.