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Department of Sociology

Sociology Department Staff

Publication details for Professor Lena Dominelli

Dominelli, L., Callahan, M., Rutman, D. & Strega, S. (2005). Endangered Children: Experiencing and Surviving the State as Failed Parent and Grandparent. British Journal of Social Work 35(7): 1123-1144.

Author(s) from Durham


The state removes children from ‘failed’ parents to give them a better experience of parenting. This article examines the role that the state plays as parent to young mothers in care and grandparent to their children, drawing on a small-scale study undertaken in western Canada using grounded theory methodology. The findings were bleak: the state as parent and grandparent also fails these children. We consider why this is the case and make suggestions for ways forward by critiquing the ideology of familialism that underpins the state’s punitive approach to these young mothers and their children. We also call for policies and a practice that enable practitioners to address structural inequalities such as poverty and racism alongside the capacity to respond to the personal needs of the young women and their children as young people with dignity and rights.