Research Report 2007

International recognition for Social Work researcher

Portrait of Dr. Ken Barter

Dr. Ken Barter

Dr. Ken Barter, Social Work, has built an exceptional career at Memorial since 1988 in the areas of child welfare, community building, collaboration, foster care and social work practice in child protection. His current research is on community-building, collaboration and innovation as concepts for change in public child-welfare organizations.

All this adds up to a reputation that has been recently recognized by the Mackay Centre for Research on Community and Children's Services (CROCCS), based in the Whitsunday, Hinterland and Mackay Region of Queensland, Australia. Dr. Barter travels to Australia to present an invited keynote address on his work in Newfoundland at the CROCCS 4th International Conference Aug. 4-6, 2007.

Dr. Barter explained that the MacKay Centre includes formal and informal research, as well as education and evaluation projects between various government and community agencies and universities. "The Mackay Centre has a successful research partnership with the Department of Communities and the James Cook University, with five major research projects focusing on alternative care and foster care. Some of their current projects in this partnership include alternative care and costs and benefits, education training and support for foster carers, recruitment strategies for foster carers, support mechanisms for foster carers, children with disabilities within the alternative care system and an examination of the over representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander children in care."

Dr. Barter's paper is one of about 60 select invited international addresses representative of current work being done throughout the world in terms of supporting vulnerable families and children.

Over the last three years, Dr. Barter has been involved in a number of innovative outreach programs for families and children at risk. With five community agencies in St. John's, he is leading a three-year pilot project to help families take advantage of programs and resources in the community and develop networks and support whereby they can get a better sense of hope for turning their lives around and protecting the health and well-being of children. The community agencies involved in this project are the Daybreak Child Care Centre, the Avalon East School Board, Health and Community Services (St. John's Region), the Janeway Family Centre and Brighter Futures Coalition (St. John's Region). This research is funded under the National Crime Prevention Strategy's Crime Prevention Partnership Program in the amount of $248,870. A new proposal is currently under consideration to continue this work with 13 community agencies in the St. John's Region as partners.

He has also been involved with delivering and evaluating child abuse prevention programs across Canada, serving as the principal investigator on a research study that was funded for $329,100 over three years from the strategic fund under Safer Communities Initiative, part of the national strategy on community safety and crime prevention. This research involved partnerships with the Canadian Red Cross RespectED Program and the Schools of Social Work at Dalhousie University and the University of Calgary.

Dr. Barter has also been involved as the Atlantic researcher with the School of Social Work, University of Toronto in doing the 1989 and 2003 Canadian Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect. He has also been involved as a project director in an international project with the School of Nursing. With social work colleague Dr. Sharon Taylor and Dr. Lan Gien of the School of Nursing, the team is working on a project to improve the qualifications of social workers in Vietnam.

While he is justifiably proud of the work he has accomplished so far in his career, Dr. Barter is looking forward to starting a sabbatical year at the MacKay Centre conference. "I am proud that my research is being recognized internationally and I look forward to listening to other researchers from other countries. It's a terrific opportunity to share my work with an international audience and help me fine tune the work I am doing for the improvement of services in protecting children at risk."