Michael Saini

Title(s): 
Associate Professor; Factor-Inwentash Chair in Law and Social Work; Ph.D. (Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto); M.S.W. (Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto); B.S.W. (Social Work, Lakehead University); BA (Sociology, Nipissing University); BA (Law and Justice, Laurentian University)
Email: 
Phone Number: 
(416) 946-5027
Office Location: 

Room 312

Research Interests: 

• Children and families involved with the courts
• High conflict custody disputes
• Access to Justice
• Child emotional abuse and maltreatment
• Conflict resolution
• Supervised Access and Exchanges
• Child protection mediation
• Evidence-Based Practice
• Systematic Reviews (meta-analysis and qualitative synthesis)

Biography: 

Michael A. Saini, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto and holds the endowed Factor-Inwentash Chair of Law and Social Work. He is the Co-Director of the Combined J.D. and M.S.W. program with the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto and the Course Director of the 40-hour Foundations to Custody Evaluations with the Continuing Education Program at the University of Toronto. For the past 16 years, he has been conducting custody evaluations and assisting children’s counsel for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, Ministry of the Attorney General in Ontario. He has over 50 publications, including books, book chapters, government reports, systematic reviews and peer-reviewed journal articles. His publications have been in the area of high conflict, alienation, supervised visitation, virtual visitation and parent competencies post separation and divorce, He is an editorial board member for the Family Court Review and a Board Member of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

Current research projects include: exploration of high conflict families after separation and divorce; parenting competency after separation; virtual technologies and parent-child contact; differential responses within family justice services; supervised access and exchange services; evaluation of family justice services; and the intersections of child welfare and custody disputes.

For the past 16 years, Dr. Saini has been completing custody and access assessments for the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario. Dr. Saini was previously the manager of the Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare located at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work. He was also a program analyst for the Supervised Access Program, Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario, a child protection worker in Northern Ontario for the Children’s Aid Society, District of Nipissing and Parry Sound, a youth worker for Dilico Ojibway Child and Family Services and a youth support worker in secure custody facilities for young offenders in both North Bay and Thunder Bay.

Dr. Saini is also interested in evidence-based practice (EBP), research methods, systematic review, meta-analysis, qualitative synthesis and critical appraisal of qualitative research. He is the previous systematic review specialist for the Canadian Partner of the Campbell Collaboration in the Research Institute for Evidence-Based Social Work at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.

Dr. Saini teaches Family Mediation, Welfare of Children, Research for Children and Families, Intersections of Policy and Practice for Children and Families and Evidence-Based Practice. He provides workshops to practitioners and researchers to assist in conducting systematic reviews and rapid evidence assessments, evaluating systematic reviews, meta-analysis and meta-synthesis, using qualitative software, program evaluation and implementing evidence-based practices.

Books: 

Drozd, L., Olesen, N., & Saini, M. (2013). Parenting Plan & Child Custody Evaluations: Increasing Evaluator Competence & Avoiding Preventable Errors. Sarasota, FL: Professional Resource Press

Fidler, B., Bala, N., & Saini, M. (2012). Children who resist postseparation parental contact: A differential approach for legal and mental health professionals: New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Saini, M., & Shlonsky, A. (2012). Systematic synthesis of qualitative research: A pocket guide for social work research methods. New York: Oxford University Press.

Book Chapters: 

Saini, M. & Ma, J. (2012). Culture and parenting after divorce. In Kathryn Kuehnle and Leslie Drozd (Eds). Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied Research for the Family Court. Oxford University Press.

Saini, M., Johnston, J., Fidler, B., Bala, N. (2012). Empirical evidence of alienation. In Kathryn Kuehnle and Leslie Drozd (Eds). Parenting Plan Evaluations: Applied Research for the Family Court. Oxford University Press.

Bailey, S., Lach, L., Byford Richardson, K. & Saini, M. (2012). Interpersonal interactions and relationships. In Majnemer A (Ed). Measures for Children with Developmental Disabilities, London, UK: Mac Keith Press.

Saini, M., & Léveillé, S. (2011). Researcher –community partnerships: a systematic synthesis of qualitative research (Eds) Léveillé, S., Trocmé, N., Chamberland, C., & Brown, .  Partnerships in child welfare research. Toronto: Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare.

Glancy, G., & Saini, M. (2009). Sexual Abuse by Clergy. In Fabian M. Saleh, Albert J., Grodzinskas Jr., and John M. Bradford (Ed) Sex Offenders: A Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Identification, Risk Assessment, Treatment & Legal Issues. London: Oxford University Press, Inc.

Shlonsky, A., & Saini, M. (2008). Risk Assessment Instruments. In Renzetti, C.M. & Edleson, J.L. (Eds). Encyclopedia of interpersonal violence (Vols. 1-2). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Publications In Refereed Journals: 

Saini, M., Allan-Ebron, D. & Barnes, J. (2015). A critical review of relocation research specific to separation and divorce. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 56(2), 388-408. DOI:10.1080/10502556.2015.1046797

Polak, S. & Saini, M. (2015). Children resisting contact with a parent post-separation: Assessing this phenomenon using an ecological systems framework. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 56(3), 220-247.

Birnbaum, R. & Saini, M. (2015). A qualitative synthesis of children’s experiences of shared care post divorce. International Journal of Children’s Rights, 23, 109-132.

Saini, M. & Polak, S. (2014). The ecological validity of parent-child observation visits in custody evaluations. Journal of Child Custody, 11(3), 181-201.

Manassis, K., Changgun Lee, T., Bennett, K., Yan Zhao, X., Duda, S., Saini, M., Wilansky-Traynor, P., Baer, S, Barrett, P., Bodden D., Cobham, V., Dadds, M., Flannery-Schroeder, E., Ginsburg, G., Heyne, D., Hudson, J., Kendall, P., Liber, J., Warner, M., Mendlowitz, S., Nauta, M., Rapee, R., Silverman, W., Siqueland, L., Spence, S., Utens, E., Wood, J. (2014) Is all parental involvement created equal?: A preliminary meta-analysis with individual patient data from CBT trials in anxious youth. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 82(6), 1163-1172.

Saini, M., Mishna, F., Barnes, J., Polak, S. (2013). Parenting online: Virtual parenting time in the context of separation and divorce. Journal of Child Custody, 10(2), 120-140. DOI:10.1080/15379418.2013.796265

Birnbaum, R., Saini, M., McCleary, L., Hurwitz, H. (in print). A community-based response for addressing the needs of high conflict families Journal of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. 58(1), X-X.

Saini, M., Black, T., Fallon, B., & Marshall, A. (2013). Child custody disputes within the context of child protection investigations: Secondary analysis of the Canadian Incident Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect. Child Welfare, 92(1), 115-137.

Saini, M. & Barnes, J.  (2013). A 50-year scoping review of Family Court Review: An analysis of the journal’s core values. Family Court Review, 51(1), 74-86.

Regehr, C., Alaggia, R., Denise, J., Pitts, A., & Saini, M. (2013) Interventions to reduce distress in adult victims of sexual violence and rape: A systematic review. Research for Social Work Practice. 23(3), 255-263. DOI: 10.1177/1049731512474103

Birnbaum, R. & Saini, M. (2012). A scoping review of qualitative studies on the voice of the child in child custody disputes. Childhood. 20(2), 260-282. DOI: 10.1177/0907568212454148

Saini, M., Black, T., Lwin, K., Marshall, A., Fallon, B., Goodman, D. (2012). Child protection workers’ experiences of working with high conflict families. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(7), 1309-1316. DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.03.005

Birnbaum, R. & Saini, M (2012). A qualitative synthesis of children’s participation in custody disputes. Research for Social Work Practice. 22(4), 400-409. DOI: 10.1177/1049731512442985

Saini, M. (2012). Reconceptualizing high-conflict divorce as a maladaptive adult attachment response. Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 93(3), 173-180. DOI: 10.1606/1044-3894.4218

Saini, M., Van Wert, M., Gofman, J. (2011). Parent-child supervised visitation within child welfare and custody dispute contexts:  An exploratory comparison of two distinct models of practice. Children and Youth Services Review. 34(1), 163-168. DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.09.011

Nicholas, D., Zwaigenbaum, L., Clarke, M., Roberts, W., Magill-Evans, J., Saini, M., … & Spoelestra, M. (2011). Synthesis Review of Qualitative Studies in Autism. International Journal Of Qualitative Methods, 10(4), 506-506.

Cimino, T., Lach, L., Mechan, K., Saini, M., Nimigon, J., MNeill, T., Nicholas, D., & Rosenbaum, T. (2011). Quality of abstracts in the context of a systematic review on parenting of children with chronic health conditions and disabilities. Journal of Evidence-Based Social Work, 8(4), 369-78. DOI: 10.1080/15433714.2010.531228.

Mishna, F., Cook, C., Saini, M., Wu, M-J., MacFadden, R., (2011). Interventions to Prevent and Reduce Cyber Abuse of Youth: A Systematic Review. Research on Social Work Practice, 21(1), 5-14. DOI: 10.1177/1049731509351988

Saini, M. (2010). Child maltreatment investigations within the context of high conflict separation and divorce, Canada’s Children, 16(3), 46-50.

Mishna, F., Saini, M., & Solomon, S. (2009). Ongoing and online: Children and youth’s perceptions of cyber bullying. Children and Youth Services Review, 31(12), 1222-1228. DOI:10.1016/j.childyouth.2009.05.004

Saini, M. & Birnbaum, R. (2009). Towards an accurate assessment of high conflict: testing the dimensions of conflict in separated families scale (DCSFS), Canada’s Children, 15(3), 40-45.

Saini, M. (2009). A meta-analysis of psychological treatment of anger: Developing guidelines for evidence based practice. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. 37(4), 438-441.

Glancy, G. & Saini, M. (2009). The confluence of Evidence-Based Practice and Daubert within the fields of forensic psychiatry and the law. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. 37(4), 438-441.

Mishna, F., McLuckie, A., & Saini, M. (2009). Real World Dangers in an Online Reality: A Qualitative Study Examining Online Relationships and Cyber Abuse. Social Work Research, 33(2), 107-118.

Saini, M. (2008) Evidence base of custody and access evaluations, Journal of Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention. 8(1), 111-129.

Regehr, C., Alaggia, R., Lambert, L., & Saini, M. (2008). Victims of sexual violence in the  Canadian criminal courts. Victims and Offenders. 3(1), 99-113.

Saini, M. & Birnbaum, R. (2007). Unraveling the label of ‘high conflict’: What factors really count in divorce and separated families. Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies Journal, 51(1), 14-20

Birnbaum, R., & Saini, M. (2007). A pilot study to establish reliability and validity: The Dimensions of Conflict in Separated Families. Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies Journal, 51(2), 23-31.

Saini, M. & Birnbaum, R. (2005).  Linking judicial decision-making in joint custody awards with evidence –based practice: It is possible? Canadian Family Law Quarterly, 24, 139-165.

Glancy, G, & Saini, M. (2005). A review of psychological treatment of anger and aggression. Journal of Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 5(2), 229-248.

Other Selected Publications: 

Peer Reviewed Bibliographies

Saini, M. (2011). Systematic Review. In Oxford Bibliography Online: Social Work. Ed. Edward Mullen. New York: Oxford University Press

Saini, M. (2011). Divorce. In Oxford Bibliography Online: Social Work. Ed. Edward Mullen. New York: Oxford University Press

Saini, M. (2010). Research Overview. In Oxford Bibliography Online: Social Work. Ed. Edward Mullen. New York: Oxford University Press. April 18, 2010.

 

Professional Publications

Theoduloz, R., Lefebvre, R., Saini, M., & Trocme, N. (2014). Child custody / access disputes in child maltreatment-related investigations in Ontario in 2008. CWRP Information Sheet #125E. Toronto, Ontario, Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto

Drozd, L., Olesen, N., & Saini, M. (2014).  Ask the Experts, Ten Tips for Using Gatekeeping to Assess and Describe Family Dynamics. Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Monthly E-Newletter, 7(5).

Saint-Jacques, M.-C., Filion, L., Petitpas, J., Gervais-Breton, V., Turcotte, D., Parent, C., Saini, M. (2013). La médiation familiale à distance et internationale. Collection Que savons-nous? (3), Québec, ARUC –Séparation parentale, recomposition familiale.

Olesen, N., Drozd, L., Saini, M., & Slabach, M., (2013). Fifty years of cognitive science and decision-making: Implications for the AFCC community, Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference Presenter Notes.

Drozd, L., Olesen, N., & Saini, M. (2013).  A road map for conducting systematic custody evaluations. Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, California Chapter Newsletter, 8, 4-5.

Fidler, B. Bala, N. & Saini, M. (2011). Ask the experts: Ten tips for legal and mental health professionals involved in alienation, or alleged alienation, cases. Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Monthly E-Newletter, 6(5).

Saini, M. (2010). Knowledge translation to research.  Touchstones of Hope, Fall 2010.

Saini, M. (2009). Evidence-based practice as a framework for mental health practitioners within the family law context. Association of Family and Conciliation Courts News, 28(3), Summer 2009.

Saini, M. & Azzopardi, C. (2009). Evidence-based practice for social work: Friend or foe? Ontario Association of Social Workers Newsletter.

 

Selected Government Reports

Saini, M. (2013). Relocation within the context of family law: Critical appraisal of the social science evidence.  Family, Children & Youth Section Policy Sector Department of Justice Canada, Ottawa, Canada.

Saini, M., Mishna, F., Pitt, G., Barnes, J., Ratcliffe, M. & Cheng, G. (2012). Virtual visitation as an option for parent-child contact after divorce. Family, Children & Youth Section Policy Sector Department of Justice Canada, Ottawa, Canada

Fidler, B. Bala, N. & Saini, M. (2012). Alienation in Separation and Divorce: An Evidence-Based Review. Final Report. Family, Children & Youth Section Policy Sector Department of Justice Canada, Ottawa, Canada

Saini, M., Redmond, M., & Polak, S. , Yadeta, E. (2010). Prevalence of high conflict separation and divorce and associated factors: A multi-method approach to map the evidence. Final Report. Family, Children & Youth Section Policy Sector Department of Justice Canada, Ottawa, Canada

 

Selected Presentations

Denny, D., Randall, F., Lee, C., Saini, M. (2015). Evaluation Outcomes of Nebraska’s Parenting Act: 2015 Research Findings. 52nd Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana (May 27-30, 2015).

Goudbout, E., & Saini, M. (2015). Custody Evaluators’ and Judges’ Views on their Practice Context and Role (Poster). 52nd Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana (May 27-30, 2015).

McLarty, B., Saini, M. Bala, N., Birnbaum, R. (2015). Pathways through the court system: Results of a random court file analysis (Poster). 52nd Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana (May 27-30, 2015).

Akinbobola, A., & Saini, M. (2015). Barriers to Access to Justice: A Parent’s Perspective (Poster). 52nd Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana (May 27-30, 2015).

Deljavan, S. Saini, M. & Deutsch, R. (2015). Youths’ Experiences of Attending the Overcoming Barriers Family Camp (Poster). 52nd Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana (May 27-30, 2015).

Saini, M., Drozd, L., & Olesen, N. (2015). Virtual Gatekeeping: Structuring parenting plans that facilitate online parent-child relationships. Association of Family Conciliation and the Courts California Chapter Annual Conference. Orange County, CA (February 8-10, 2015).

Drozd, L., Olesen, N., & Saini, M. (2014). Effective Use of Research for Parenting Plan Evaluations. Association of Family and Conciliation Courts 11th Symposium on Child Custody Evaluations: Examining Unintended Consequences, San Antonio, Texas (November 6-8, 2014).

Morris, R., Saini, M., Stoddart, K.P., Muskat, B., Barrett, D., Gibson, M., Nicholas, D., Rampton, G., & Zwaigenbaum, L. (2014, November). A meta-ethnographic view of the pathways to positive couple relationships for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. Poster presented at Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) Social Work Provincial Conference, Toronto, ON.

Morris, R., Saini, M., Stoddart, K.P., Muskat, B., Barrett, D., Gibson, M., Nicholas, D., Rampton, G., & Zwaigenbaum, L. (2014). A meta-ethnographic view of the pathways to positive couple relationships for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder. Poster presented at Autism 2014: The Geneva Centre for Autism International Symposium, Toronto, Ontario (October 22-25, 2014).

Carter, J., Saini, M. & Mishna, F. (2014). Virtual parenting time: The perspectives of legal and mental health professionals. (Poster). 51st Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, Toronto, Ontario (May 28-31, 2014).

Polak, S., Saini, M., Sharma, M. (2014). Interim parenting plan evaluations: Implications of delaying final recommendations. (Poster). 51st Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, Toronto, Ontario (May 28-31, 2014).

Groysman, V., Saini, M., & Newman, J. (2014). An analysis of long term clients within supervised access programs. (Poster). 51st Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, Toronto, Ontario (May 28-31, 2014).

Lam, A., Reitsma, A., Saini, M., & Cirillo, L. (2014). Social Work in the Context of a Community Legal Clinic. (Poster). 51st Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, Toronto, Ontario (May 28-31, 2014).

Polak, S., Saini, M., & Deutsch, R. (2014). An Evaluation Study of the Overcoming Barriers Family Camp. (Poster). 51st Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, Toronto, Ontario (May 28-31, 2014).

Drozd, L., Olesen, N., & Saini, M. (2014). Evidence-Based Decision Tree for Considering Shared Parenting, 51st Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, Toronto, Ontario (May 28-31, 2014).

Newman, J., Benmore, S., Saint-Jacques, M.C. & Saini, M. (2014). Supervised access and custody exchange services: Part of the solution. 51st Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, Toronto, Ontario (May 28-31, 2014).

Bogo, M., Craig, S., & Saini, M. (2014). Using Simulation to Teach and Assess Social Work Students’ Holistic Competence CASW-ACTS /CASWE-ACFTS National Joint Conference, St. Catharines, Ontario (May 26 -29, 2014).

Drozd, L., Olesen, N. & Saini, M. (2014). Adaptive and maladaptive motivational patterns for gatekeeping behaviors after separation and divorce: The decision tree approach. Association of Family Conciliation and the Courts California Chapter Annual Conference. San Fransico, CA (February 7-9, 2014).

Drozd, L., Austin, W., Dale, B. & Saini, M. (2013). Gatekeeping, Alienation, and Protective Parenting: Relating Co-Parenting Practices to Best Interests of the Child (Pre-Conference Institute) Association of Family and Conciliation Courts: There’s no place like Two Homes. Regional Conference, Kansas City, Missouri (November 7-9, 2013).

Saini, M. (2013). Child custody disputes within the context of child welfare investigations (Poster). The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children 21st Annual Colloquium, Caesar’s Palace Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada (June 25-28, 2013)

Drozd, L., Olesen, N., Saini, M. (2013). 50 years of cognitive science: Implications for the AFCC Community, at the 50th Anniversary Conference, Riding the Wave of the Future: Global Voices, Expanding Choices. The conference will take place in Los Angeles, California, at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. (May 29-June 1, 2013).

Birnbaum, R., Bala, N., Saini, M., Cyr, F. (2013). Pathways through family justice: Improving outcomes for children and families, at the 50th Anniversary Conference, Riding the Wave of the Future: Global Voices, Expanding Choices. The conference will take place in Los Angeles, California, at the JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. (May 29-June 1, 2013).

Saini, M., Drozd, L., Harper, J. (2012). Practical ways to apply alienation research in custody cases. Association of Family Conciliation and the Courts’ 10th Symposium on Child Custody Evaluations Research and Practice: Bridging the Gap and Finding the Balance. Phoenix, Arizona (November 1-3, 2012).

Saini, M. (2012).  Methods for conducting qualitative synthesis: aggregating, integrating and interpreting islands of exploratory data.  2012 Qualitative Health Research (QHR) Conference, International Institute for Qualitative Methodology, Montreal Quebec (October 20-24, 2012).

Saini, M. & Martin, L. (2012). And the research says? Strategies to effectively use social science research to inform collaborative teams. Ontario Collaborative Law Federation. Full Steam Ahead. Building Effective Collaborative Teams. Barrie, Ontario (September 27-29).

Saini, M. (2012). What research can and cannot tell us. Federation of Law Societies of Canada’s 2012 National Family Law Program, Halifax, Nova Scotia, (July 16-19, 2012).

Saini, M., & Polak, P. (2012). Virtual parent-child relationships: Emerging considerations and debates about the use of technologies in child custody disputes. 49th Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, Chicago, Illinois, (June 2012).

Saini, M. (2012). Qualitative synthesis to help explore complex interventions: an evolving approach within systematic reviews. Campbell Collaboration Colloquium, Copenhagen, Denmark (May 2012).

Fidler, B., Bala, N., Saini, M. (2011) Pre-conference institute: Children resisting contact post-separation and parental alienation. 48th Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, Research, Policy and Practice in Family Courts: What’s Gender Got to do with it? Orlando, Florida. (June 2011).

Saini, M. & Root, J. (2011). Assessing measures of parenting after separation and divorce. 48th Annual Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference, Research, Policy and Practice in Family Courts: What’s Gender Got to do with it? Orlando, Florida. (June 2011).

Saini, M. (2011). Innovations in the integration of qualitative synthesis within systematic reviews. First European Conference for Social Work Research, Oxford, United Kingdom (March 2011)

Saini, M. (2011). Child custody disputes with the context of child welfare. Society for Social Work and Research, 15th Annual Conference, Tampa, Florida. (January 2011).

Saini, M. (2010). What do qualitative studies have to add to systematic reviews: A simple explanation of qualitative research and its use in systematic reviews.  Joint Cochrane and Campbell Collaboration Colloqium, Keystone, Colorado (May 2010)

Wade, A., Cargo, M. & Saini, M. (2010). Systematic reviews and information retrieval: planning and implementing a database search. Joint Cochrane and Campbell Collaboration Colloqium, Keystone, Colorado (May 2010).

Cargo, M., Thomas, J., Saini, M., Rogers, P. & Hannes, K. (2010). Why did it only work for that group of people or in that context? The contribution of theory, context, process and implementation in systematic reviews of effectiveness. Joint Cochrane and Campbell Collaboration Colloqium, Keystone, Colorado (May 2010).

Lach, L., Saini, M., Bailey, S., Cimino, T. (2010). Systematic review methods for observational studies: Challenges and solutions. Joint Cochrane and Campbell Collaboration Colloqium, Keystone, Colorado (May 2010).