For over 20 years, Dr. Barbara Fallon, Associate Professor in the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work has been gathering data, both provincially and nationally, to help front-line workers address the needs of kids in the child welfare system.
In one study, she and her co-authors found that just four per cent of maltreatment cases involved physical abuse requiring medical attention. They suggested child welfare services may be focusing on rapid intervention to prevent physical harm instead of a broader assessment of a child’s needs.
More recently, she and her colleagues have looked at the overrepresentation of First Nations children in care. The rate of child maltreatment investigations is more than four times higher among First Nations children, the researchers found, using data from 2008. “The root cause is colonialism,” she says.
Fallon gathers information knowing that behind the statistics are real children and families in need of support.