Some of our previous analyses have shown that exposure to IPV can overlap with high conflict custody dispute cases. An overlap between these two types of cases creates a complex situation for child protection services. While custody disputes can have a significant negative impact on children, these cases do not always fall within the legislated definition of child maltreatment. An alternative service response might be needed to provide the support that these cases require.
The three presentations in this symposium will examine service responses over the past 20 years in Ontario, Canada using data from the Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect (1993, 1998, 2003, 2008, and 2013). This is a representative, large scale study that collects administrative data through a multi-stage sampling design. Through composite regionalization and annualization weights it allows for annual incidence estimates to be made about all investigations in the child welfare system in Ontario.
(1) The first presentation looks at the service response to exposure to IPV cases over the past 20 years (1993 to 2013), examining how changes in policies and regulations have resulted in exponential increases in the number of IPV-related investigations being carried out.
(2) The second presentation examines more closely the type of exposure to IPV encountered in child protection services and the specific drivers behind increases in exposure to IPV investigations. Three types of exposure to IPV are considered: (1) direct witness to physical violence, (2) indirect exposure to physical violence, and (3) exposure to emotional violence.
(3) The third presentation looks at the investigations that involve child custody disputes. The relationship between custody disputes and children’s exposure to emotional abuse is explored, as well as how the presence of custody disputes influences the service response in child protection investigations.
This symposium brings together research from different facets of domestic conflict cases in child protection agencies in order to make recommendations for a more effective child welfare service response. Given that domestic conflict cases make up a majority of the investigations carried out by child protection services, providing appropriate interventions is crucial in ensuring child safety and well-being.