Document Type

Child and Family Welfare Review Papers (2001)

Publication Date



Faculty of Social Work


Responses to child maltreatment can be conceptualized as a continuum, ranging from a welfare-oriented approach on one end, to a legalistic emphasis at the other end. By shifting attention to structures existing at the welfare end of the continuum, this paper endeavours to look beyond the approaches of investigation and legal processing, currently emphasized in Ontario’s approach to child welfare. This paper examines how intermediary structures and roles in various international settings are constructed to offer support to families and children. Intermediary judicial and professional roles found in European child welfare systems will be discussed. In addition, the paper will examine the roles and structures found in Ontario’s child welfare system that resemble those of an intermediary nature found in Europe. It is hoped that readers can use these cross-cultural comparisons to clarify the rationale behind choices, stimulate awareness of alternative views, and rethink some of the emphases and methods that dominate the child welfare system in Ontario.