Report shines light on poverty's role on kids in CAS system

Report shines light on poverty's role on kids in CAS system

Posted August 15, 2016

Article Source
Toronto Star

A new report that for the first time calculates the effect of poverty in Ontario child protection has found it plays a significant role in kids being taken from their families and placed into care.

Children whose families ran out of money for housing were twice as likely to be placed with foster parents or group homes, according to an analysis of Ontario children taken into care in 2013.

Similar rates were found for families who ran out of money for food or for utilities. Children with a parent suffering from addiction or mental health problems were also placed in care at about twice the overall rate.

"These families struggle to put food on the table, they struggle to keep a roof over their heads. Some of them work two or three jobs," said the report's co-author, Deborah Goodman.

"And the reason children's aid is in their lives is because of those vulnerabilities. They're under a lot of stress and that affects their parenting," added Goodman, a professor at the University of Toronto's faculty of social work and a senior official with the Children's Aid Society of Toronto.

Nico Trocmé, also a co-author, said families in each category highlighted in the report struggled with a host of difficulties, from financial stress and inability to access services to schools not meeting children's needs.

"Running out of money for food is an indicator for a whole host of things going on that we can’t measure with a crude analysis," he said. "It's a combination of factors that undermine the family's or the agency’s ability to find alternatives to placement."

The poverty removal rates were extracted from the government-funded Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, compiled in 2013. A team of researchers examined a representative sample of 4,961 child protection investigations conducted by 17 children’s aid societies. The cases involved children up to 14.

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