Jan Christianson-Wood is the President of the Canadian Association of Social Workers (CASW). She is also a Health Standards Organization (HSO) Technical Committee expert, having played an active role in the development of HSO’s newly revised Child, Youth and Family Services Standard.

Jan Christianson-Wood

Jan Christianson-Wood

On Nov. 23, 2017, HSO released its new generation of standards, which were developed through a Technical Committee process that included input from patients, families, policy makers, clinicians, and more. The revised Child, Youth and Family Services Standard is available for purchase on HSO’s E-Store.

Christianson-Wood says she joined the Technical Committee because she feels that standards in this area of care are important. She notes that standards set a “clear benchmark” for the excellence of services and for workers.

“I think they are absolutely important,” Christianson-Wood says. “Without standards, families have no way of knowing what kind of services they are entitled to and workers have no guide as to the quality of services they are to deliver.”

She adds that one aspect that sets HSO’s Child, Youth and Family Services Standard apart from others is the broad view it takes on aspects of child welfare services.

Christianson-Wood says it is the first time she sees a standard that goes into detail about what an area where children and families meet should look like.

“It’s new to me to see a standard take something like this into consideration,” she says. “This is an excellent idea.”

Christianson-Wood has more than 25 years of experience in social work and child welfare. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work and is a registered social worker in Manitoba. She also worked as a social worker for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Manitoba, reviewing the deaths of children involved in the child welfare system.

She notes that as committee members are diverse – including social workers, members of health services organizations, volunteer organizations, and First Nations child welfare organizations – the revised standard has a broad reach; bringing various types of experience together.

She says that the diversity of committee members allowed for a better understanding of what aspects of a standard work and what aspects could be challenging for workers.

“We found out fairly quickly that there were areas where one aspect of the standard might work and where another aspect might be difficult to implement due to working conditions etc.”

She says that for example, due to case load or overall workload, it can be difficult for social workers to meet requirements for visits to children in foster care.

“In some circumstances, there is no reasonable way that they can meet the requirement, and this often weighs heavily on social workers,” she says.
Christianson-Wood adds that involving users of the standard in the development process is also a good idea.

“It’s always a good idea to have input on how the application of a standard or the failure to meet a standard has an impact on the person or the family receiving services,” she says.

She adds that being part of HSO’s Technical Committee was “a great opportunity.”

Over the past year, HSO has been working hard to put people at the centre of everything we do.

In past months, 10 different Technical Committees have started their work to develop world-class standards and leading practices related to various areas of health care and social services.

Additionally, at the end of November, HSO was accredited by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC) to develop National Standards of Canada. HSO is the only Standards Development Organization (SDO) solely dedicated to health and social services standards.

In response to HSO’s new accreditation from the SCC, CASW said: “We are committed to the principles of equity and service delivery for all Canadians.”

Do you want to know more about HSO’s Technical Committees? You can learn more here.