Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name



Social Work

First Advisor

Poco D. Kernsmith


In 2006, new policies mandated Ontario child welfare agencies to explore potential placements with kin when children are removed from their homes. The philosophical basis driving Ontario policy is the belief that family-based care is better for children. Despite the dramatic rise in the numbers of kinship homes, controversy continues to surround the mandated exploration of kin (Geen, 2003). Kinship policies have required shifts in child placement practices and have imposed changes in the beliefs, attitudes and norms of child welfare professionals. Early practitioners tended to pathologize kinship networks and worked from the belief that children required rescuing from abusive family systems (Jefferson-Smith et al., 2002). This study examines professional attitudes about family-based care and the influence of those attitudes about practice decisions. One-hundred and ninety two child welfare professionals answered an on-line, anonymous survey. The theory of planned behaviour guided the research questions. The effects of stress, workload and job satisfaction on attitudes are also explored. These findings indicate that a large majority of professionals continue to have some reservations regarding family-based care. It also shows a large amount of subjectivity and great divide among professionals in their practice decisions. Negative attitudes toward family-based care are found to influence the number of kinship families pursued; increase the number of verified maltreatment investigations and increase the number of children removed from kinship homes. High levels of stress, workload and low job satisfaction are also found to negatively influence professional attitudes. Biased investigations and removal decisions should be examined further and addressed as they can result in concerning implications for families and children. Current Ontario standards should be tightened to avoid the subjectivity in decision-making. Workload, stress levels and job satisfaction should also be considered for professionals struggling with understanding the value of kin.

Included in

Social Work Commons