This article closes this special Canadian issue of CHILD WELFARE by identifying major themes that have emerged from the previous articles and presents a critique of the policies and practices now dominating the child welfare enterprise in Canada. It outlines the changes required to move child welfare from its residual stance into an enterprise that identifies and reports on the poverty-ridden lives of its clients, is governed by communities, works in a supportive fashion with and advocates for families, and develops a capacity for innovative practice.
As noted in the Foreword, the editorial board of this special edition began its work with some lofty ambitions: to portray the contexts that establish the purposes and functions of child welfare, to examine the connections between these contexts, and to showcase policy and practice innovations in Canadian child welfare. These aims have been largely satisfied, though not without some gaps. For example, no articles were submitted to this special issue that described and compared the strengths and weaknesses of provincial child welfare legislation. In addition, neither of the two articles on child welfare in First Nations communities was designed to capture the full extent and diversity of developments in these communities. We were also disappointed that some Canadian innovations such as parent mutual aid associations were not covered in this edition.
The intent of this concluding article is to identify the major themes that have emerged and to present a critique of current Canadian policy and practice and some suggestions for change. These suggestions outline the reforms required in Canada if child welfare is to move beyond its present residual and crisis-dominated state.