This study explores prevalence and characteristics associated with supervisory neglect and physical harm in children in the child welfare system in Canada.
The sample included all substantiated primary maltreatment investigations in the 2008 Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect excluding cases where exposure to intimate partner violence was the sole reason for investigation (n=3,380). Bivariate tests were used to assess differences across types of maltreatments and to compare supervisory neglect cases with and without physical harm on factors related to child injury and supervision.
Supervisory neglect was the primary concern in an estimated 12,793 cases of substantiated maltreatment across Canada in 2008. Compared to other types of maltreatment, cases of supervisory neglect involved more overcrowded housing conditions and children who were younger and less likely to have any functioning issue. Injuries were noted in only 2% of cases supervisory neglect and half of these injuries were not severe enough to require medical treatment. Other physical health conditions were noted in 2% of supervisory neglect cases. Physical harm was noted most often for toddlers (1-2 years old) and adolescents (12-15 years old). Household and caregiver characteristics were not associated with greater rates of physical harm. In contrast, 7% of children with any risk factor suffered physical harm as a result of supervisory neglect mainly related to substance abuse, self-harming behavior, and multiple incidents of running from care.
Child risk factors are often present in cases of supervisory neglect with physical harm. Nonetheless, 96% of all cases of supervisory neglect substantiated by Canadian child welfare authorities do not involve physical harm. Clearer guidelines are needed for the assessment of supervisory neglect. Alternative response systems may be more suitable for low-risk cases.
The Canadian government's recent cuts to healthcare coverage for refugee claimants has rekindled the debate in Canada about what medical services should be provided to individuals with precarious immigration status, and who should pay for these services. This article further explores this debate, focussing on the perceptions of healthcare workers in Montreal, a large multiethnic Canadian city. In April-June 2010, an online survey was conducted to assess how clinicians, administrators, and support staff in Montreal contend with the ethical and professional dilemmas raised by the issue of access to healthcare services for pregnant women and children who are partially or completely uninsured. Drawing on qualitative analysis of answers (n = 237) to three open-ended survey questions, we identify the discursive frameworks that our respondents mobilized when arguing for, or against, universal access to healthcare for uninsured patients. In doing so, we highlight how their positions relate to their self-evaluations of Canada's socioeconomic situation, as well as their ideological representations of, and sense of social connection to, precarious status immigrants. Interestingly, while abstract values lead some healthcare workers to perceive uninsured immigrants as "deserving" of universal access to healthcare, negative perceptions of these migrants, coupled with pragmatic considerations, pushed most workers to view the uninsured as "underserving" of free care. For a majority of our respondents, the right to healthcare of precarious status immigrants has become a "privilege", that as taxpayers, they are increasingly less willing to contribute to. We conclude by arguing for a reconsideration of access to healthcare as a right, and offer recommendations to move in this direction.
Access to health care for undocumented migrant children and pregnant women confronts human rights and professional values with political and institutional regulations that limit services. In order to understand how health care professionals deal with these diverging mandates, we assessed their attitudes toward providing care to this population. Clinicians, administrators, and support staff (n = 1,048) in hospitals and primary care centers of a large multiethnic city responded to an online survey about attitudes toward access to health care services. Analysis examined the role of personal and institutional correlates of these attitudes. Foreign-born respondents and those in primary care centers were more likely to assess the present access to care as a serious problem, and to endorse broad or full access to services, primarily based on human rights reasons. Clinicians were more likely than support staff to endorse full or broad access to health care services. Respondents who approved of restricted or no access also endorsed health as a basic human right (61.1%) and child development as a priority (68.6%). A wide gap separates attitudes toward entitlement to health care and the endorsement of principles stemming from human rights and the best interest of the child. Case-based discussions with professionals facing value dilemmas and training on children's rights are needed to promote equitable practices and advocacy against regulations limiting services.