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Poverty Shouldn’t Be a Child Protection Issue

August 6, 2022

It was 1985.

I had recently graduated with my Masters in Social Work. I was working for the Catholic Children’s Aid Society in downtown Toronto.

The case involved a young boy. If I recall correctly, maybe about twelve-years-of-age.

The issue was school truancy.

The thinking of the supervisor was to possibly apprehend. We had yet to really investigate.

My investigation revealed a lovely kid who loved to ride his BMX bike.

He rode it to the various food banks in different close communities.

Although a somewhat simple kid, he had memorized the schedule of which food bank you could visit on which days for what kind of items.

He did this as it was the only means of food for his family.

The parents were poor, disabled and unable to work. Sure they had disability support payments, but it barely covered basic needs.

This was an industrious kid taking care of himself and parents.

Apprehending him wouldn’t solve anything. He would quickly run back to his family.

It would cost more to have him in care than it would to provide extra financial support to the family.

I left him alone.

This was a kid who wasn’t getting into trouble. He was though a victim of society. His parents although disabled, were still caring. I did what I could to arrange additional financial support.

This was poverty.

I grew up wanting for nothing. It’s not that we were rich, but we certainly had whatever we needed. I knew not of poverty. I certainly had my biases.

My naivete was burst.


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I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for counseling and support – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

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