Skip to main content

Better Understand to Better Serve: a Province-Wide Knowledge Mobilization Initiative in Child Protection


Child protection is one of the fastest growing service sectors in Canada, yet we know surprisingly little about the effectiveness of these services. This article presents a provincial university-agency knowledge partnership aimed to better understand the dynamics of child protection services. For exemplary purposes, the results of a service outcome indicator on out-of-home placement will be reported along with province-wide secondary analyses examining when and for whom out-of-home placement is most likely to occur.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4


  1. 1.

    For examples, see Rubin et al. 2007; Rubin et al. 2004; Garbarino et al. 1992; Doyle 2007; Jonson-Reid and Barth 2000a; 2000b; Main and Hesse (1990).

  2. 2.

    In general, child protection services in Quebec are the responses by child protection authorities to reports of abuse and neglect in families. The structure of child protection services vary across jurisdictions, however, the social and legal tenants that guide child protection practice are common across North America and are centered on family preservation and permanency. At the program level, agency authorities tend to focus their efforts on providing supportive services aimed at keeping the family intact, reunifying the family if a child is removed, or if reunification is impossible, permanency planning for the child. For more information see Munro (2008).

  3. 3.

    Urie Bronfenbrenner is credited with developing the theory of the bio-ecology of human development, which is social-psychological framework for understanding one’s interacting environments and the role those environments have in human development. Jay Belsky (1980) applied ecological theory to child maltreatment reduction and prevention interventions (1980).

  4. 4.

    For more information and figures representing the ecological domains see Trocmé et al. 2013; Trocmé et al. 2011a.

  5. 5.

    Relative change calculated using the following formula: ( (y2 − y1)/y1) 100.

  6. 6.

    Refer to Esposito et al. 2013.

  7. 7.

    The socioeconomic disadvantages index consists of six socioeconomic indicators for each of Quebec’s 10,907 census dissemination areas. For each of the census dissemination areas, we coded the (1) total population 15 years and over who are unemployed or not in the labor force; (2) median income in 2005 for population 15 years and over; (3) total persons in a private household living alone; (4) total population 15 years and over who were separated, divorced or widowed; (5) family median income in 2005; and (6) median household income in 2005. A principal component analysis with varimax rotation was performed to create the index of socioeconomic disadvantages. The process reduced the six indicators into a single socioeconomic disadvantages construct for each dissemination area. The socioeconomic disadvantage index was then linked with the child protection clinical administrative data based on the children’s postal codes at initial maltreatment investigation.

  8. 8.

    Regions represent territorial aggregations used to organize the delivery of provincial government services. They are often referred as Quebec administrative regions.

  9. 9.

    Poverty measures refer to: 1) the regional percentage of people receiving social assistance payments for years 2008 to 2012, and; 2) the percentage of low income families with children for years 2008 to 2012. Health and social services spending refers to regional per capita health and social services spending (excluding child protection services spending) between 2006 and 2014.


  1. Barwick, M. A., Boydell, K. M., Stasiulis, E. Ferguson, H.B., Blase K. & Fixsen, D. (2008). Research utilization among children’s mental health providers, Implementation Science, 3(19).

  2. Belsky, J. (1980). Child maltreatment: an ecological integration. American Psychologist, 35(4), 320–335.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bowlus, A., McKenna, K., Day, T., & Wright, D. (2003). The economic costs and consequences of child abuse in Canada. Report to the Law Commission of Canada. Retrieved on August 8, 2014 from: = full.

  4. Chagnon, F., Pouliot, L., Malo, C., Gervais M.J. & Pigeon, M. É. (2010). Comparison of determinants of research knowledge utilization by professionals and administrators in the field of child and family social services, Implementation Science, 5(41).

  5. Doyle, J. (2007). Child protection and adult crime: using investigator assignment to estimate causal effects of foster care. Journal of Political Economy, 116(4), 746–772.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Esposito, T., Trocmé, N., Chabot, M., Shlonsky, A., Collin-Vézina, D., & Sinha, V. (2013). Placement of children in out-of-home care in Quebec, Canada: when and for whom initial out-of-home placement is most likely to occur. Children and Youth Services Review, 35(12), 2031–2039.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Garbarino, J., Dubrow, N., Kostelny, K., & Pardo, C. (1992). Children in danger: Coping with the consequences of community violence. San Francisco: The Jossey-Bass social and behavioural science series and the Jossey-Bass education series.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Gervais, M. J., Chagnon, F., & Paccioni, A. (2011). Augmenter l’utilisation des données probantes par les intervenants et les gestinnaires en centre jeunesse. Service Social, 57(1), 49–62.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Harvey, G., Loftus-Hills, A., Rycroft-Malone, J., Titchen, A., Kitson, A., McCormack, B., & Seers, K. (2002). Getting evidence into practice: the role and function of facilitation. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 37(6), 577–588.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Hemsley-Brown, J. (2004). Facilitating research utilization: a cross-sector review of research evidence. The International Journal of Public Sector Management, 17(6/7), 534–552.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Hemsley-Brown, J., & Sharp, C. (2003). The use of research to improve professional practice: a systematic review of the literature. Oxford Review of Education, 29(4), 449–470.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Jonson-Reid, M., & Barth, R. P. (2000a). From maltreatment report to juvenile incarceration: the role of child welfare services. Child Abuse & Neglect, 24(4), 505–520.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Jonson-Reid, M., & Barth, R. P. (2000b). From placement to prison: the path to adolescent incarceration from child welfare supervised foster or group care. Children and Youth Services Review, 22(7), 493–516.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Main, M., & Hesse, E. (1990). Parents’ unresolved traumatic experiences are related to infant disorganized attachment status: Is frightened and/ or frightening parental behavior the linking mechanism? In M. T. Greenberg, D. Cicchetti, & E. M. Cummings (Eds.), Attachment in the preschool years (pp. 161–182). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Munro, E. (2008). Effective child protection (2nd ed.). London: Sage Publication. 176 pages.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Rubin, D. M., Alessandrini, E. A., Feudtner, C., Mandell, D. S., & Localio, A. R. (2004). Placement stability and mental health costs for children in foster care. Paediatrics, 133(5), 1336–1341.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Rubin, D. M., O’Reilly, A. L. R., Luan, X., & Localio, A. R. (2007). The impact of placement stability on behavioural well-being for children in foster care. Paediatrics, 119(2), 336–344.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Trocmé, N., Fallon, B., MacLaurin, B., Sinha, V., Black, T., Fast, E., & Holroyd., J. (2008). Canadian incidence study of reported child abuse and neglect. Public Health Agency of Canada.

  19. Trocmé, N., Esposito, T., Laurendeau, C., Thomson, W., & Milne, L. (2009). La mobilisation des connaissances en protection de l’enfance. Criminologie, 42(1), 33–59.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Trocmé, N., Esposito, T., Mulcahy, M., Coughlin, L., Fallon, B., MacLaurin, B., & Shlonsky, A. (2011a). The national child welfare outcomes indicator matrix (NOM) and its application in a child welfare agency. In K. Kufeldt & B. McKenzie (Eds.), Child welfare: Connecting research, policy and practice (2nd ed.). Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Trocmé, Milne, L., Laurendeau, C., & Gervais, M. J. (2011). Evidence-based management in child welfare: A process and outcome evaluation. Centre for Children and Families, McGill University.

  22. Trocmé, N., Esposito, T., Chabot, M., Duret, A., & Gaumont, C. (2013). Rapport synthèse –Gestion axée sur les indicateurs de suivi clinique, données Québécoise, McGill University.

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tonino Esposito.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Esposito, T., Trocmé, N., Chabot, M. et al. Better Understand to Better Serve: a Province-Wide Knowledge Mobilization Initiative in Child Protection. Child Ind Res 9, 651–661 (2016).

Download citation


  • Child protection
  • Knowledge mobilization
  • Indicators
  • Longitudinal analysis
  • Out-of-home placement