Urgent Protection versus Chronic Need: Clarifying the Dual Mandate of Child Welfare Services across Canada

This article defines and clarifies the dual mandate of child welfare services across Canada by analyzing the data from the 1998, 2003, and 2008 Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (CIS). The dual mandate (excluding P.E.I.) distinguishes between two types of harm: 1) acute harm (or risk of acute harm) is typically associated with severe physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect of very young children(s) that require(s) urgent protection; and 2) non-urgent situations that involve long-term psychological harm associated with chronic exposure to neglect, emotional maltreatment, as well as less severe forms of physical abuse. The authors conclude that it is imperative that professionals are able to distinguish chronic need from urgent protection in order to provide timely, effective, and appropriate services, and that they must develop effective protocols and services to address the needs of children and families who fall under this mandate.  


Nico Trocmé, Alicia Kyte, Vandna Sinha, and Barbara Fallon

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