Last Updated on August 7, 2018
August 7, 2018 – The Children and Youth Care and Protection Act empowers Newfoundland and Labrador to intervene through its child welfare officers to protect children in cases where new principles under the law is not being followed.
Yet, this law is creating challenges for visible minority immigrant (VMI) parents who fear lack of recognition in cultural variations in parenting and caregiving practices may lead to protective intervention even when parents truly love and care for their children.
According to VMI parents, the perspective that parents of visible minorities don’t love their children or are much harder on them stems from cultural misunderstandings.
Awkward translation of phrases into English, inherent differences in the way parents of visible minorities show affection or discipline their children. The challenges faced by immigrant parents are some of the reasons that may lead to unnecessary state intervention under the law.
The issue is complicated by lack of awareness about the law and its provisions. This results in situations where VMI parents learn about the existence of the law only after a protective intervention has occurred.
Remedial measures suggested to the provincial government and the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development cover numerous strategic and practical aspects of the law’s implementation.
Making the Act available in languages other than English may help non-English speaking immigrants and refugees to understand the provisions of the law better.
Online and offline resources explaining provisions related to child protection, health, and education under the Act too will help. These can be provided in a language that VMI parents and children are comfortable with to maximize awareness.
Greater recognition of cultural differences, especially among child welfare practitioners and officers too will help minimize instances of unnecessary intervention by the state. Hiring more visible minority social workers with greater understanding of cultural contexts and nuances too will aid the process.
Instead of emphasis on assimilation or conformation by immigrant parents, a two-way process of integration between the state and immigrants too will ensure greater protection for children with fewer issues and complications.
Increased participation of community organizations and the Department of Children, Seniors and Social Development in information sessions organized by VMI and other parents will lead to an open inter-cultural dialogue and smoother implementation of the law.
Finally, recognizing there are multiple ways to bring up children in a loving and caring environment and encouraging synergies between parenting practices of different cultures will enhance the effectiveness and impact of the child protection law.
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