Document Type

Transforming Front-Line Child Welfare Practices (2010)

Publication Date



Faculty of Social Work


In this study, differences between accessible settings and centralized settings in terms of the range of services and supports that were reported to be available to clients were investigated. The numbers, types and variety of services described differed, as did the amount of advocacy and support in connecting with services. Also, client satisfaction with the services provided appeared to be somewhat different across models.

Number, Types and Variety of Services In accessible settings families were being connected with at least twice as many different services and supports as in the centralized sites. There were a few exceptions to this trend in the accessible settings.

Diversity of Service Connections Centralized settings offered a more standardized and narrower range of service options and were focused primarily on professional support. While both models could offer additional supports around food, clothing and shelter, these were more frequently provided in the accessible sites. Both models also used community supports such as recreation for children, however, the accessible sites seemed to offer a broader range with more local, neighbourhood based options.

Service Facilitation and Advocacy It was clear that in accessible settings, there was more direct facilitation and assistance from workers when it came to connecting families to services. Examples of advocacy support were found in both types of settings but accessible settings appeared to facilitate advocacy more frequently and in more diverse ways.

Satisfaction with Services The nature of comments varied in that positive comments from centralized settings, in regard to services and supports, generally stressed an appreciation for the professional services they were linked to while comments from accessible settings were more generally enthusiastic and suggested that some families felt extremely supported by the child welfare agency. Some of the positive comments about service supports from accessible sites stressed the lengths the agency went to get services as well as the diversity of benefits parents received from some of the service connections.

Service Gaps and Criticisms There were more examples of dissatisfaction among parents at centralized sites, compared with accessible sites. The three themes summarizing criticisms that emerged were lack of services, perceived lack of responsiveness from the child welfare agency, and poor service fit or the provision of services that parents did not feel were useful. There were far more parents from centralized sites who were critical about the lack of services in particular.

Waiting Lists and Access General satisfaction with the quality of services, supports, connections and referrals is comparable across models, however, there was somewhat more criticism for a lack of services in the centralized settings and a higher level of enthusiasm for the extent of support within the accessible models.

Even though centralized models may have been good at connecting families with some useful professional services, accessible settings seemed to offer the added benefit of variety and more extensive service support. As a result, parent enthusiasm and praise for the supports they received appeared to be somewhat greater at accessible sites.