Document Type

Transforming Front-Line Child Welfare Practices (2010)

Publication Date



Faculty of Social Work


The focus of this report is, across service delivery models, how front-line protection workers viewed their formal authority role and the extent to which they relied on legal measures in order to achieve protection goals. The analysis is guided by several overarching questions including (1) how does each model view the use of legal measures and formal authority? (2) How does each model impact service providers’ actual use of legal measures? (3) What value do workers place on the authority figure role? And (4) how effective is the use of formal authority in reaching child protection goals?

Type of program model and setting can impact the use of legal measures in a number of ways including fundamental beliefs about the effectiveness of cooperative vs. legal measures, supervisory guidance, the presence or absence of legal apparatus, and the access, time and 4 support to seek creative alternatives to legal measures. Across all community based and school based models there seemed to be an expressed desire to avoid legal and authoritative measures and authoritarian approaches. Agency based sites did not have the same homogeneity and in some sites there was strong support for use of legal and authoritative measures. There also appeared to be a stronger identification with the authoritarian role in the discourse of workers. One cannot conclusively say that authoritative and legal approaches are more prevalent in one type of model than in another but one can surmise from the data that community based and school based programs are strongly in favour of alternatives to these measures.