The child welfare system in British Columbia requires a re-orientation towards prevention. Structural factors drive substantiated maltreatment rates, which are predominantly for neglect and exposure to intimate partner violence. Many at-risk families receive no support services until crisis. The BC Ministry of Child and Family Development (MCFD) serves high-risk families where maltreatment has occurred, filtering out at-risk families to navigate a fragmented net of community services. This research study examines British Columbia’s continuum of services for at-risk families to identify service gaps. A literature review informs the rationale of primary prevention programs and community development. Interviews with frontline professionals show the need for “user-informed” services. Three policy options are analyzed: increased provision of services for at-risk families through MCFD’s Support Services stream, primary prevention through Nurse Family Partnerships, and population-level primary prevention through Family Connects. Family Connects is recommended to achieve a population-level effect in reducing maltreatment.
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