We have opted within our democracy to provide a safeguard for children whose parents cannot or will not provide them adequate care. We may criticize the intrusion of the Ministry of Children in the lives of families and parents but we should understand the philosophy that drives the service. The government also owns responsibility to insure that children's needs are met. Within this freedom lies an awareness that when concerns arise about physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect, then the government by way of a mandated child protection agency may become involved with the family.
Sometimes the Ministry's involvement is voluntary, which is to say that the agency upon request offers to parents support and counsel to more effectively care for their children, and this may include monitoring and accountability. Other times the agency's involvement with a family is involuntary and even unwelcome. Of course a child protection agency must protect children from parents whose conduct constitutes physical abuse or neglect, sexual abuse, emotional abuse or neglect, or failure to provide adequate care. It is never justifiable to interfere with a family merely because the agency believes it can do a better job of care or provide more developmental opportunities. Justification of involvement occurs only when the level of care received by children has fallen below a standard which no child in the country should experience.
The social worker's struggle and the parent's conflict arises from the vagueness of definitions for child abuse and neglect because this requires assessment by a particular worker as to what that minimal standard for care should be and whether or not these parents have missed it.
This is certainly one of the dilemmas of our child protection system.