An overview of the child welfare systems in Canada

Pamela Gough, Aron Shlonsky, Peter Dudding

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Canada is physically the second-largest country in the world, but a relatively small population of approximately 33 million people, of which 7 million are children and youth under the age of 18 years. Under Canada’s federal structures, the ten provinces and three territories are responsible for providing health, education, and social services, including child protection. The child welfare systems across the country are reasonably well developed and share common features including mandatory reporting, a respect for the primary role of the family in raising children, a paramount objective of protecting children from harm, and a focus on the best interests of the child being taken into consideration when decisions need to be made regarding child safety. While there are many differences in policies and practice from one part of the country to another, Canadian child protection systems, as they are currently structured, are funded to respond to reports of child maltreatment, or risk of maltreatment, but are generally not well funded to take action in areas of social service that would prevent maltreatment from happening in the first place. Aboriginal children and youth, although a relatively minor part of the overall child population, are vastly overrepresented in the child welfare system, with current estimates of the chances of a First Nations child being in child welfare care being approximately one in ten, compared with one in 200 for non-First Nations children in Canada. Despite Canada’s affluence as a nation, many families with children continue to live in poverty.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Aspects of Child Abuse and Neglect
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781611224030
ISBN (Print)9781608767038
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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