Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Gary Cameron

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This qualitative study focuses on the everyday realities and child placement experiences of 31 mothers of children placed in out-of-home care in south western Ontario. The stories used in this analysis were collected for the Partnerships for Children and Families Project, a multi-year research project that is committed to developing an understanding of the lives and experiences of families and children who are served by Children's Aid Societies and/or children's mental health services. Twenty six mothers in this study were interviewed on one occasion, ranging from one to two hours in duration. Five mothers in this study had multiple interviews. The literature reveals highly negative portrayals of biological mothers who become involved with systems of child protection. Their lives tend to be evaluated in relation to the dominant ideology of good mothering. To date, there are few studies that seek to understand the everyday realities and perspectives of mothers of children placed in out-of-home care. This study employs a reflexive conceptual framework consisting of three core interpretive paradigms. Each paradigm focuses attention on particular aspects of data interpretation, enabling a multidimensional analysis of mothers' experiences and perspectives. The women in this study describe lives of lesser privilege and adversity in daily living. Mothering in this context requires parenting strategies congruent with the demands in their everyday lives. The conclusions suggest considerable discrepancy between portrayals of these mothers conditioned by the dominant ideology of good mothering and their lived realities. This study explores the implications for mothers when children are placed in out of home care. Mothers' experience of child placement is varied. The conclusions suggest ways that systems of child protection might incorporate mothers' perspectives in developing services that provide constructive assistance to mothers and families.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season