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Fathers and the Canadian Child Welfare System

Thursday Jul 23, 2009

"Social workers need to re-conceptualize child welfare practice from its present ‘genderneutral' construct, with its implicit focus on mothers, to become father inclusive," argues Christopher Walmsley, of Thompson Rivers University, in a paper called Fathers and the Welfare System.

Walmsley's paper, available for download from the website of the Child and Youth Research Network, comes out of the work of the Fathering and Child Welfare Research Group situated at the University of Victoria School of Social Work. Walmsley pulls together data from the group's work and other research to document the ways in which many child protection workers tend to discount any value a father might have to his family and children, and that they make only minimal efforts to contact or work with fathers in families involved in the child welfare system.

Walmsley argues that if child welfare agencies begin to "see" fathers, and provide policy and practice guidance to their staff about engaging with fathers, they will reduce the risk of harm to children and mothers in the long term. He also suggests that social workers who create a space for fathers to reflect on their behaviour in intimate relationships and heal from their traumas will enable men to become more positively involved with their children.

Read Fathers and the Child Welfare System.

The members of the Fathering and Child Welfare Research Group are Leslie Brown, Marilyn Callahan, Lena Dominelli, Susan Strega and Christopher Walmsley