Intersecting Challenges: Mothers and Child Protection Law in BC

UBC Law Review, Forthcoming

63 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2016

See all articles by Judith Mosoff

Judith Mosoff

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law

Isabel Grant

University of British Columbia - Faculty of Law

Susan B. Boyd

University of British Columbia Allard School of Law

Ruben Lindy

Independent

Date Written: September 22, 2016

Abstract

This paper is concerned with how courts in British Columbia adjudicate applications by the state to remove children permanently from their parents, usually their mothers. Overwhelmingly, these cases are about single mothers who experience mental disability and addiction, domestic violence, and poverty. Indigenous women are over-represented in our sample. The intergenerational effects of the child protection system also are clear as many of the mothers in our study were themselves raised in state care. The paper highlights the degree to which judges blame women for the precarious circumstances in which they live, which are often a product of austerity measures adopted by states. Courts describe these circumstances as being a function of poor “lifestyle choices”, thus obscuring the role of the state in protecting women from violence, providing safe housing and supporting mothers and children with disabilities. Particularly troubling is the finding that courts are appear to be more willing to sever the relationship between mothers and their children where those children are themselves identified as having “special needs”. Judges are quick to assume that a child will be “better off” in state care even in the face of evidence that the child protection system in British Columbia has woefully failed both children and their mothers.

Keywords: Child Protection, Child Welfare, Motherhood, Mental Disability, Mental Illness, Family Law

Suggested Citation

Mosoff, Judith and Grant, Isabel and Boyd, Susan Barbara and Lindy, Ruben, Intersecting Challenges: Mothers and Child Protection Law in BC (September 22, 2016). UBC Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2842318

Judith Mosoff

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada

Isabel Grant (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia - Faculty of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada

Susan Barbara Boyd

University of British Columbia Allard School of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada
604-822-8108 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.allard.ubc.ca/faculty-staff/susan-b-boyd-frsc

Ruben Lindy

Independent

No Address Available

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