Expanding the ecological lens in child welfare practice to include other animals

Christina Risley-Curtiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sixty-nine million U.S. households have companion animals and most of these families consider these animals to be family members. Research shows that children have powerful emotional connections with animals that can be both beneficial and harmful. Considerable research findings report that violence against animals often co-occurs with, indicates, or predicts other forms of family violence, including child abuse. A companion animal may be an abused child's confidante, and separation from that animal through foster care may be a source of stress and grief for that child. Child welfare agencies are slowly acknowledging some animal-human relationships, especially in regard to animal abuse and family violence, yet professional acceptance of the significance of animals in the lives of children is often piecemeal. Being a meaningful part of the family system means that including questions and observations about the past and current presence of animals in child welfare households, the meaning those animals have for each family member, their care, and whether any of them have been hurt or killed is important to effective family-centered practice. This article discusses how taking a more ecological approach by consciously integrating animal-human relationships into child welfare practice can help caseworkers make a more accurate and useful assessment of child safety and well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-130
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Sociology and Social Welfare
Volume40
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013

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child welfare
animal
violence
family member
abuse
grief
acceptance
well-being

Keywords

  • Animal-assisted interventions
  • Child welfare
  • Family violence
  • Human-animal bond

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

Expanding the ecological lens in child welfare practice to include other animals. / Risley-Curtiss, Christina.

In: Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, Vol. 40, No. 4, 2013, p. 107-130.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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