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Poverty and child welfare

Information about poverty, its effects on children and families, and the role it plays in child welfare involvement.

About this guide

This guide is intended as a support for child welfare professionals working with low-income families. It provides information about poverty and its effects on children and families, and highlights the role that family poverty plays in child welfare involvement.

Use the sidebar menu on the left to find information and browse supplementary resources.

About poverty and child welfare

In Ontario, indicators of poverty - such as unemployment, lack of housing, and food insecurity - play an important role in family crises that lead to Children's Aid Society involvement. The majority of child welfare cases are not related to extreme abuse, but instead involve families that are struggling with challenging issues such as mental health, trauma, and economic hardship that are the product of social and economic systems.


This guide is intended as a supplementary resource for staff at Children's Aid Societies and Indigenous Well-being Agencies. It is not intended as an authority on social work or legal practice, nor is it meant to be representative of all perspectives in child welfare. Staff are encouraged to think critically when reviewing publications and other materials, and to always confirm practice and policy at their agency.