RUNNING HEADE: CHILD WELFARE IN CANADA 1
ChildWelfare in Schools in Canada
Studies(Frenete, 2007, p. 7) have revealed that children from poorbackgrounds stand a higher risk of not attending university-leveleducation as opposed to their counterparts in well-to-do families.One out of seven Canadians lives in poverty (CANADA WITHOUT POVERTY,2016). Poverty costs the Canadian government between $72 billion and$84 billion every year. On average, the Ontarians pay $2,299 to$2,895 annually, whereas the British Columbians pay over $2,100 everyyear. By extension, statistics also indicate that poverty, in Canada,went up from 15.8% in 1989 to 19% in 2013 (Kohut, 2015). Povertyrates for indigenous children are highest, at 40%. To curb povertyproblems the Canadian government has instituted a number of measures.For example, adding a new section (s.88) to the Indian Act in 1951paved a way for provincial acts to work with First Nations personsliving on reserve (National Collaborating Centre for AboriginalHealth, 2010, p. 1). This paper puts the issue of low-income childrenand their families in Canada in context, and explores the options,short-term and long-term, for schools to help these children andtheir families get out of the low-income threshold.
Beforediscussing the issues concerning low-income families, it is prudentto define the key concepts under discussion. Child welfare servicesare a range of services that ensure children are safe, and familieshave the requisite support to cater to the needs of their childrensatisfactorily. Services which prevent child abuse and neglect,services that help families protect and care for their children andservices that receive and investigate information of possible childneglect and ill-treatment are commonplace when discussing childwelfare services (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2012, p. 1).
Povertycan be viewed in two ways. The first definition is absolute poverty,which is perceived as the deficiency of essential goods and servicesrequired to reach a minimal but sustainable level of physical welfare(Lammam & MacIntyre, 2016, p. 2). People in absolute poverty facereal challenges when it comes to accessing the minimum standard ofshelter, food, and other requirements, which means their long-termwellbeing and health is put in jeopardy. In most cases, when peopletalk about poverty, they usually refer to absolute poverty.Conversely, relative poverty refers to people living in conditionsthat can be referred to as being worse than those of other members ofsociety. Relative poverty centers on the income of individuals asopposed to their actual living standards. This type of poverty alsoexists in wealthy communities, where some people are considered poorbecause they earn lower incomes than other members of the samecommunity. Conceptually, since some individuals have greater accessto resources compared to others, relative poverty can never beeliminated. However, if greater emphasis is placed on necessities asopposed to unequal incomes, the focus should be directed to absolutemeasures as the way to perceive and define poverty (2016, p. 2).
Consideringthe above, Canada has three measures of low-income. These measuresweigh the annual incomes of households against relative or absolutethresholds (De Boer, Rothwell, & Lee, n.d., p. 2). The low-incomeline is generated for various demographic differences (family type,gender, and age) and geography (census metropolitan regions andprovince). A child is considered low income when his household has anincome that falls below a particular measure of low-incomeconsidering the provided economic family type, geography, gender, andage (Lammam & MacIntyre, 2016, p. 3).
Thefirst measure is Low Income Cut-Off (LICO) (De Boer, Rothwell, &Lee, n.d., p. 3). LICO is a measure of poverty where a family spends20% or more of its income, compared to the average family, onnecessities such as shelter and food. The second model is theLow-Income Measure (LIM). LIM advances households as being low incomewhen their yearly incomes fall below the stipulated threshold of 50%of the median of distribution for a particular size of a family.Lastly, the Market Basket Measure is, primarily, an absolute measureof poverty. MBM categorizes poverty by approximating the cost ofbuying a variety of predetermined goods and services, for instance,shelter, clothing, and food. Families that fail to earn income thatmakes ends meet, as defined by the market basket, are considered lowincome.
Studies(Lammam & MacIntyre, 2016, p. 20) reveal that there areparticular groups of people, in the Canadian population, that are ata greater danger of being in persistent low income. These groups arepeople with activity challenges (mental or physical disability),singles (unmarried persons), individuals with limited education,single-parent homes, and immigrants. For example, the likelihood thata person in a single-parent home lives in persistent low income isseven and a half times higher compared to an individual in atwo-parent family. In general, people with high school education andabove have the least likelihood of being categorized within thelow-income bracket (Lammam & MacIntyre, 2016).
Consideringthe above, educators, including administrators, teachers, counselors,and other personnel, can contribute significantly to supportingat-risk children and families get better child welfare services. Instructors can help prevent child neglect and abuse by playing asupportive adult role in the life of a child. Also, during times ofcrisis, teachers can help low-income parents understand the bestmodels of positive discipline practices, in addition to referringfamilies and children to further support and services if need be.Such practices can help prevent transfers to out of home care (ChildWelfare Information Gateway, 2012, p. 2).
Educatorscan also help child welfare agencies reach more parents byemphasizing the importance of marriages to preventing low income.Statistics indicate that children born in households with only oneparent or unmarried unions are more prone to be poor compared totheir equivalents in two-parent households. Educators can helpprevent teens from engaging in early sexual practices or educateparents on the importance of marriage to maintaining a high-incomehousehold (Moore, Redd, Burkhauser, Mbwana, & Collins, 2009, P.6).
Educatorscan identify the various types of neglect and abuse. By understandingthe types of child neglect, maltreatment, and abuse, teachers canhelp implement child welfare policies more effectively. Sinceinstructors spend significant periods of time with children, they arein a better position to identify child abuse issues. As such, theycan notice child abuse patterns and inform the relevant authorities.Canada should consider implementing policies that require teachers tobecome mandatory reporters, where the law will require them to reportall child abuse problems to the relevant authorities. Such measurescan prevent child neglect and abuse issues in the long-run (ChildWelfare Information Gateway, 2012, p. 2). Increases in child supportenforcement have been proven to play a primary role in decreasingchild poverty (Moore, Redd, Burkhauser, Mbwana, & Collins, 2009,P. 7).
Educatorscan also inform low-income parents about healthcare and foodassistance programs. Children in low-income households may not haveenough to eat or may not have adequate health insurance (Moore, Redd,Burkhauser, Mbwana, & Collins, 2009, P. 7). Also, researchindicates that many low-income families do not make use of supportiveprograms, which they are eligible to apply. Helping poor parents gainawareness about such initiatives can go a long way toward eliminatingchild poverty.
Educatorscan also be a resource for child welfare agencies. On most occasions,child welfare workers consult with school staff before making adecision regarding the family to allocate a child. Educators come inhandy in providing information that helps social workers assess afamily, create a case plan, and determine where a child will live.Educators may have information (either personal knowledge or records)about the strengths and weaknesses of particular households. Thisinformation is critical to case workers since it is used to formulaterealistic goals for the various families being considered. Also, whenyoung ones change schools, caseworkers help ease the process oftransition by providing the necessary records to other administrators(Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2012, p. 2).
Ina recap of the above discussion, children from poor backgrounds standa high risk of not attending university-level education as opposed totheir counterparts in well-to-do families. Studies have revealed thatpeople with activity challenges (mental or physical disability),singles (unattached persons), individuals with limited education,single-parent homes, and immigrants are at a higher risk of fallinginto the low-income group. Educators can contribute significantly tosupporting the less privileged children and families get betteraccess to child welfare services, as discussed above.
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