Child Welfare Social Work

Applied Community Studies
Social Work
Course Code
SOWK 3260
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course provides an overview of the historical, social, philosophical and political foundations of Canadian child welfare social work. Students will explore the knowledge and skills required to provide effective interventions to families and children. Child protection legislation and policy will be examined, as well as the impact of factors such as gender, class, disability, ethnicity and culture on child welfare issues in society today.
Course Content

Course content will be guided by research, empirical knowledge and best practice. The following values and principles, consistent with professional standards, inform course content. 

  • Child Welfare Social Workers require:
    • A critical self-evaluation of personal values and beliefs about child welfare.
    • An understanding of relevant systems (e.g. legal, foster care, extended family, community) and an ability to collaborate between systems.
    • A working understanding of relevant legislation and policies.
    • Knowledge and understanding of diversity in families: e.g., cultural, immigrant, settlement, disability, same-sex, single parent, step and extended.
    • Knowledge of attachment theory and the potential impact of trauma and abuse on child development.
    • The ability to provide parents with strategies for preventing child maltreatment and promoting family preservation, including community-based activities.
  • An understanding of the legacy of colonization is essential in providing culturally appropriate support and services to Aboriginal children and families.
  • Systems (family, ecological) and strengths-based perspectives provide comprehensive tools for assessment and intervention in child welfare.
Learning Activities

Group exercises
Student presentations
Use of multimedia resources.


Means of Assessment

This course will conform to Douglas College policy regarding the number and weighting of evaluations.
Typical means of evaluation would include a combination of any of the following: 

  • Examinations
  • Research papers
  • Participation.


Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course the student will be able to:

  1. Describe major historical, ideological, legal and professional themes that inform child welfare policy and practice in Canada;
  2. Define various forms of abuse and neglect;
  3. Critically analyze current policy and practice issues in child welfare social work, and be able to demonstrate ability to apply relevant research to child welfare practice;
  4. Describe how one’s personal values and beliefs relate to child welfare work;
  5. Articulate how the intersections of ethnicity, class, gender, ability, sexual orientation, etc, influence this area of practice;
  6. Demonstrate skills required to interview, assess and support children and families experiencing trauma, stress and change;
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of public and private services available to children and families, including adoption, kinship and foster care systems;
  8. Demonstrate understanding of the effects of trauma on children and families, including potential developmental consequences;
  9. Analyze the historical and present day impacts of child welfare practice with Aboriginal children, families and communities;
  10. Demonstrate knowledge of strengths-based and alternative dispute mechanisms in child welfare social work;
  11. Describe a practice framework and skills for working in child welfare;
  12. Articulate a self-care plan that addresses how a worker might be impacted by working with child maltreatment and its consequences, including burnout and vicarious trauma.
Textbook Materials

Text(s) such as the following, the list to be updated periodically:

Baker, M. (2014). Choices and constraints in family life (3rd ed.). Waterloo, ON: Oxford University Press.
Cameron, G., Coady, N., & Adams, G. (Eds.). (2007). Moving toward positive systems in child welfare. Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier University Press.
Kufeldt, K. & MacKenzie, B. (Eds.). (2011). Child welfare: Connecting research, policy, and practice (2nd ed.). Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier University Press.
The Child, Family and Community Service Act (British Columbia).









Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for SOWK 3260
There are no applicable transfer credits for this course.

Course Offerings

Summer 2023