Child Welfare Services: Its Ontology of Colonial Difference.

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Date: March-April 2022
From: Child Welfare(Vol. 100, Issue 2)
Publisher: Child Welfare League of America, Inc.
Document Type: Report
Length: 6,938 words
Lexile Measure: 1360L

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Child welfare remains steeped in Western ontologies-reinscribing the norms of whiteness. This study examines the impact of child welfare and immigrant acculturation. The findings suggest that whiteness continues to mediate the assessment of risks and determination of intervention. Working with families who are immigrants often revolves around the demarcation of differences in parenting practices, reinforcing the boundary between "here" and "there." Finally, this contributes to and validates what is termed "sanctioned ignorance."

Child welfare agencies in Canada are mandated to ensure that children have a minimum safety and well-being level. This mandate is legislated to the provinces and delivered jurisdictionally (Government of Canada, 2019). In Ontario, child protection takes place under the legislative authority of the Child, Youth and Family Services Act (2018), which governs each child welfare agency's direct service, Children's Aid Societies, and the eleven Indigenous organizations. Criticisms of this system have focused on governmental intervention and have led to a monolithic set of standards intended to apply to all people, resulting in a fabled universality of parenting that implies a standardized or "right" way to parent (Bergen & Abji, 2020) that informs the policies, practices, and procedures used to work with children, youth, and families. Canadian child welfare philosophy advances universality by reifying white, Western ideologies to codify "appropriate" parenting measures, legislation, and practice. While maltreatment incidences are ubiquitous, research indicates that marginalized identities are more likely to come to the attention of child welfare and have ongoing involvement (McLaughlin, et al., 2017). Often, these marginalized identities experience a set of interlocking barriers, one being poverty, which is often attributed as one of the main drivers of child welfare involvement (Edwards, 2019; McLaughlin, et al., 2017).

Given the high levels of poverty and the correlation between child welfare involvement and racialization, research has indicated that immigrant families from the Global South are at higher risk of involvement due to their intersecting identities (Carranza, 2017). There are also higher risks associated with acculturation in Canada, ranging from language acquisition to securing meaningful employment (Carranza, 2017). Despite the recent focus on the colonial role of child protection legislation and the intersections of racialization and child welfare involvement in Canada, there is little discussion on how this arm of government influences immigrants' acculturation (Carranza, 2017). This article discusses a qualitative participatory-community-based research project (Minkler & Wallerstein, 2011) intended to decrease this knowledge gap. The research goal was to understand how child welfare as a governing body, including the potential for legislated involvement, impacted immigrants' acculturation processes.

Current research suggests that historical and current legislative frameworks and child welfare practice have led to the disproportionate level of involvement with families who are impoverished (Edwards, 2019), racialized (Phillips & Pon, 2018), Black (Adjei & Minka, 2018) and Indigenous (Fong, 2019). Scholarship is shedding light on child welfare as continuing the colonization of Indigenous Peoples (Blackstock, 2015; Ma, 2020) and being anti-Black (Adjei & Minka, 2018). These discussions reveal the foundations of universality by exposing the processes of embedded structural racism by standardizing...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A698841076