Document Type

Positive Systems of Child and Family Welfare International Conference (2002)

Publication Date



Faculty of Social Work


Canadian child welfare is not one single system, but more than 13 systems overseen by provincial and territorial governments and First Nations jurisdictions. However, there are many similarities among systems and general trends and directions common to them. One of these is a tendency for child welfare to become isolated from communities and related services because of its increasingly complex legislation and investigative mandates (Swift, 2001). Another is the challenge of serving peoples of diverse cultural and racial backgrounds, including First Nations peoples. Of course, each jurisdiction also responds to its particular social and political context in unique ways. In this paper we will present an overall picture of child welfare policies, services and trends across the country. We will also examine some unique and specific examples of ways child welfare organizations respond to local needs through the development of various kinds of partnerships. Highlighted in this paper will be some partnership developments with First Nations people and with diverse racial and cultural communities. Also highlighted are existing and potential partnerships with relevant service and advocacy organizations. We conclude with comments on implications of these partnerships for Canadian child welfare generally.