North American child protection systems have been experiencing an era of sweeping child welfare reform over the last decade. Despite the breadth of these changes, legislative and policy impacts are rarely evaluated to ascertain whether changes are resulting in the outcomes they were designed to achieve. Using a participatory research framework, 70 participants from relevant service sectors and service recipients from a large urban centre in Canada, were interviewed about legislation in cases of children exposed to domestic violence. While most stakeholders noted the "spirit of the Act" to be well-meaning and based on a credible body of child research, there were serious concerns cited with the implementation and impact of policies that resulted from this piece of child welfare legislation. Reluctance of abused women to disclose or seek services for their families, isolation between helping professionals from different sectors, increased demand for services, increased surveillance of mothers, and decreased accountability of perpetrators were predominant themes identified. These data strongly suggest that response models be tested as pilot studies, rigorously evaluated and fully implemented only when there are assurances that appropriate and adequate services are available to meet the complex needs of the communities they are designed to serve. & copy; The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

Child abuse, Child maltreatment, Domestic violence, Qualitative research
Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention
School of Social Work

Alaggia, R. (Ramona), Jenney, A. (Angelique), Mazzuca, J. (Josephine), & Redmond, M. (2007). In whose best interest? A Canadian case study of the impact of child welfare policies in cases of domestic violence. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 7(4), 275–290. doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/mhm018