Published: May 2019

Cover of publication, there is a painted heart with children inside it.

A Children in Limbo Task Force Publication

Summary: This publication is a collection of voices and varied perspectives, from young people with lived experience and from various professionals who have worked within the child welfare system. Some of the authors are members of the Children in Limbo Task Force, some are not. The papers vary in style and in length.

We sincerely hope that this publication will encourage and support improvements in the human and financial resources available to our children in need.

Select a section or read the full publication here:  Children at the Centre: Their Right to Truth and Voice

  1. Introduction Gitte Granofsky 
  2. Loss of a Story/Loss of Identity James R. Wilkes 
  3. Listening to Children – From Rights to Love  Irwin Elman
  4. Children at the Centre: Their Right to Truth and Voice Marvin M. Bernstein 
  5. The Child, Youth and Family Services Act: Can Listening to Children Be Legislated  Mira Pilch 
  6. Truth or Consequences  James R. Wilkes
  7. Permanency Planning and Foster Care  James R. Wilkes
  8. Responding to Children Exposed to Trauma: Understanding Through Listening  Harriet MacMillan
  9. The Importance of Giving Children a Voice  Nitza Perlman
  10. Understanding Child Behaviour: Communication & Child-Centered Decision Making Wendy Manel 
  11. Including Children in Family Group Conferencing to Develop Adoption Agreements
    Sally Palmer and Marilee Sherry
  12. Family Group Conference (FGC): An Effective Customized Way For Children and Young Persons to Participate  Marilee Sherry and Anita Horner
  13. Jewish Family and Child: A Model for Permanency Planning for Youth in Care  Jeff Mintz 
  14. Adoption with Openness and Alternative Paths to Permanency  Gail Aitken
  15. Helping Children Maintain Positive Connections with Birth Family and Culture After Adoption
    Pat Convery
  16. My Name is Sparrow   Sparrow-Rose Garlow
  17. Some Musings on the Phrase “The Best Interest of the Child”  Wendy Hayes
  18. An Open Letter to My Parents   Ingrid Palmer

Want to order this publication?  Children at the Centre: Their Right to Truth and Voice is available by e-mailing:

Published: June 2010

No-Wizard-imageJames R. Wilkes
Child Psychiatrist
Chair, Children in Limbo Task Force

Summary: The Limbo Task Force of the Sparrow Lake Alliance has continued to meet and discuss matters of continuity of care in the child welfare system and how best to provide children and youth with a sense of permanence.

Select a section or read the full publication here: There Are No Wizards: The child Welfare Conundrum.

  1. Introduction: There Are No Wizards: The Child Welfare Conundrum   James R. Wilkes
  2. Summary of Children’s Needs    Janet Morrison
  3. Life Narrative and Voice Are Children’s Rights  Birgitte Granofsky
  4. Tell Me My Story   Mary Rella
  5. Child Protection Court Proceedings      Kristina Reitmeier
  6. Adoption and Contact with Birth Family: Can a Child Have It All?     Elizabeth Keshen
  7. The Foster Parent Role in Supporting an Aboriginal Child’s Permanency Plan  Landy Anderson
  8. To Visit or Not to Visit: Issues Regarding Access Visits for Children in Care    Gail Aitken, Sarah Burgess, Janet Morrison
  9. Therapeutic Access  Mary Rella
  10. Therapy for Children in the Child Welfare System     James R. Wilkes
  11. Where’s My Place?: Helping Children in Out-of-home Care with Separation, Identity, and Self-esteem    Sally Palmer
  12. Parenting By Committee   Jean Skelton
  13. Kinship: Successes and Challenges    Lin Brough, Andrea Smart
  14. It’s About Time: Rethinking Our System of Care for Youth   Virginia Rowden

Published: January 2002


Summary: “This book is intended to promote optimal care and management of children in the child welfare system. It is directed primarily at the front-line and supervisory staff of Child Protective Services (CPS). It could also serve as a resource for lawyers, judges, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, teacher, child and youth workers, and other professionals who work with children in the child welfare system.”

Select a section or read the full publication here: Permanency Planning in the Child Welfare System

  1. Introduction                James R. Wilkes
  2. Planning Flow Chart      James R. Wilke
  3. Glossary    James R. Wilkes
  4. Factors Affecting Planning  James R. Wilkes
  5. Extending Option in Permanency Planning  Gail Aitken                                     
  6. When Should Children Be Taken Into Care?  Paul D. Steinhauer
  7. Use or Risk Assessment Tools   Harriet MacMillan, Paul D. Steinhauer, Deborha Chappel
  8. Truth or Consequences   Jame R. Wilkes, Cheryl Milne
  9. Introduction to the Use of Access
  10. The Role of Access in Permanency Planning    Margaret Osmond, Nitza Perlman, Nancy Dale, Sally Palmer
  11. Adoption and the Issue of Access or Contact    James R. Wilkes
  12. Adoption with Access   Paul D. Steinhauer 
  13. Using Mediation as an Effective Technique to Achieve Success in Open Adoptions                      Marvin M. Bernstein
  14. Access and the Changing Face of Adoption     Nancy Dale
  15. Introduction to Placement Outside the Family Home
  16. Foster Care      James R. Wilkes, Sally Palmer 
  17. Staff-Operated Settings   Margaret Osmond, Sally Palmer, James R. Wilkes
  18. The Recognition, Prevention and Management of Attachment Disorders within the Child Welfare System  Paul D. Steinhauer, Margaret Osmond, Sally Palmer, Harriet McMillan, Nitza Perlman
  19. Youth Transition to Independence    Cheryl Milne
  20. Membership: Children in Limbo Task Force

Published: April 1996

Summary: In Canada, the state assumed a major responsibility for the well-being of children. The state intervenes on behalf of children, using different mechanisms. One of these mechanisms is the child welfare system.

The purpose of this document is to identify some of the difficulties that destabilize the lives and undermine the development and continuity of important relationships for children in the child welfare and/or custody an access disputes. This is important to protect children’s development, mental health, competence and potential for take their place as successful and contributing members of society.

Select a section or read the full publication here: Report of the Children in Limbo Task Force – April 1996.

  1. Definitions
  2. The Emotional and Psychological Costs of Limbo
  3. Precursors of Limbo
  4. Case Management Issues
  5. Court Issues (Litigation Limbo)
  6. Prevention and Treatment