Document Type

Life Stories Volumes (2009)

Publication Date



Faculty of Social Work


The voices we hear describing the lives of mothers who come into contact with child welfare agencies are usually those of service providers and researchers. How do mothers make sense of their own lives and what happened to their families when they became involved with child welfare? This report provides an opportunity to listen to what 16 of these mothers had to say over conversations averaging 5 - 6 hours with each woman. Aspects of these stories will be familiar to some readers. Nonetheless, these stories challenge both popular and professional perceptions of who these mothers are and how they confront the obstacles in their lives. The stories also ask us to consider how we might make our helping more welcome and congruent with the lives of these mothers, their children and families. (Summary version of report also available.)