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 specific 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 ElmanVoice of Lawyers


  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 PilchVoice of Clinicians


  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 and Child-Centered Decision Making
    Wendy ManelFamily Group Work


  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 MintzPermanency, Adoption and Openness
  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 ConveryVoices of Lived Experience
  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 from:
Children in Limbo Task Force
c/o Ms. Birgitte Granofsky
e-mail address:

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 two previous publications:
Children in Limbo, 1996, and Permanency Planning in the Child Welfare System, 2002.
The Task Force 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 specific 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                          2
    James R. Wilkes
  2. Summary of Children’s Needs                                                                                                5
    Janet Morrison
  3. Life Narrative and Voice Are Children’s Rights                                                                  7
    Birgitte Granofsky
  4. Tell Me My Story                                                                                                                      13
    Mary Rella
  5. Child Protection Court Proceedings                                                                                    26
    Kristina Reitmeier
  6. Adoption and Contact with Birth Family: Can a Child Have It All?                             41
    Elizabeth Keshen
  7. The Foster Parent Role in Supporting an Aboriginal Child’s Permanency Plan       48
    Landy AndersonTo
  8. Visit or Not to Visit: Issues Regarding Access Visits for Children in Care                  60
    Gail Aitken, Sarah Burgess, Janet Morrison
  9. Therapeutic Access                                                                                                                  73
    Mary Rella
  10. Therapy for Children in the Child Welfare System                                                          90
    James R. Wilkes
  11. Where’s My Place?: Helping Children in Out-of-home Care                                         96
    with Separation, Identity, and Self-esteem
    Sally Palmer
  12. Parenting By Committee                                                                                                     110
    Jean Skelton
  13. Kinship: Successes and Challenges                                                                                   122
    Lin Brough, Andrea Smart
  14. It’s About Time: Rethinking Our System of Care for Youth                                        139
    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.”
– Excerpt from Introduction



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

      I. Overview 

  1. Introduction                                                                                                                          4
    James R. Wilkes
  2. Planning Flow Chart                                                                                                            7
    James R. Wilkes
  3. Glossary                                                                                                                                  8
    James R. Wilkes
  4. Factor Affecting Planning                                                                                                 10
    James R. Wilkes
  5. Extending Option in Permanency Planning                                                                  15
    Gail AitkenII. Removing a Child from Home
  6. When Should Children Be Taken Into Care?                                                                27
    Paul D. Steinhauer
  7. Use or Risk Assessment Tools                                                                                         33
    Harriet MacMillan, Paul D. Steinhauer, Deborha Chappel
  8. Truth or Consequences                                                                                                     40
    Jame R. Wilkes, Cheryl MilneIII. Use of Access
  9. Introduction                                                                                                                         56
  10. The Role of Access in Permanency Planning                                                                 59
    Margaret Osmond, Nitza Perlman, Nancy Dale, Sally PalmerIV. Adoption
  11. Adoption and the Issue of Access or Contact                                                                90
    James R. Wilkes
  12. Adoption with Access                                                                                                         93
    Paul D. Steinhauer 
  13. Using Mediation as an Effective Technique to Achieve
    Success in Open Adoptions                                                                                             101
    Marvin M. Bernstein
  14. Access and the Changing Face of Adoption                                                                 124
    Nancy DaleV. Placement Out of the Family Home
  15. Introduction                                                                                                                       132
  16. Foster Care                                                                                                                         133
    James R. Wilkes, Sally Palmer 
  17. Staff-Operated Settings                                                                                                   138
    Margaret Osmond, Sally Palmer, James R. Wilkes
  18. The Recognition, Prevention and Management of Attachment
    Disorders within the Child Welfare System                                                                145
    Paul D. Steinhauer, Margaret Osmond, Sally Palmer, 
    Harriet McMillan, Nitza PerlmanVI. Youth Transitions to Independence 
  19. Youth Transition to Independence                                                                               174
    Cheryl MilneVII. 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 specific section or read the full publication here: Report of the Childten in Limbo Task Force – April 1996.

  1. Definition                                                                                                                                  1
  2. The Emotional and Psychological Costs of Limbo                                                           1
  3. Precursors of Limbo                                                                                                               3
  4. Case Management Issues                                                                                                     17
  5. Court Issues (Litigation Limbo)                                                                                         33
  6. Prevention and Treatment                                                                                                  48