Michael A. Saini, PhD, holds a doctoral degree in the field of social work. Since 2007, he has been tenured faculty member at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto. He is currently an Associate Professor and holds the endowed Factor-Inwentash Chair in Law and Social Work and he is the Co-Director of the Combined J.D. and M.S.W. program with the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto. He is also the Co-Director of the Indigenous Trauma and Resiliency Program at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto.
In 2019, Dr. Saini was awarded the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts’ Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award, sponsored by the Oregon Family Institute.
Dr. Saini teaches Family Mediation, Welfare of Children, Research for Children and Families, Intersections of Policy and Practice for Children and Families and Evidence-Based Practice. He provides workshops to practitioners and researchers to assist in conducting systematic reviews and rapid evidence assessments, evaluating systematic reviews, meta-analysis and meta-synthesis, using qualitative software, program evaluation and implementing evidence-based practices.
Dr. Saini has over 100 publications, including books, book chapters, government reports, systematic reviews and peer-reviewed journal articles. His publications have focused on access to justice, child custody disputes, interparental conflict, intimate partner violence, alienation, cultural dynamics of separated families, supervised visitation, virtual visitation, child protection services and parent competencies post separation and divorce. In 2018, he was awarded the Meyer Elkin Essay Award for the best article in Family Court Review (Volume 55) for his co-authored article “Adaptive and Maladaptive Gatekeeping Behaviors and Attitudes: Implications for Child Outcomes After Separation and Divorce” (Saini, M., Drozd, L., Olesen, N.).
Dr. Saini has extensive clinical experience. He began in social work career as a child protection worker in northern Ontario and working with Indigenous children and their families at an Ojibway children’s mental health agency in Thunder Bay Ontario. From 2000 to 2019, Dr. Saini was a clinical agent with the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario where he interviewed children and their parents with respect to parenting time disputes and he wrote Children’s Lawyer Reports pursuant to section 112 of the Courts of Justice Act and he assisted counsel for the Children’s Lawyer appointed by the Courts to provide independent legal representation for children. Dr. Saini currently conducts private parenting plan evaluation (section 30 of the Courts of Justice Act), Voice of the Child Reports, parent coaching for separated parents, groups for separated parents and he provides expert consultation, supervision and court testimony in all aspects of child custody disputes.
Dr. Saini has extensive knowledge and expertise of parenting plans post separation and divorce. He is Course Director of the 40-hour Foundations to Child Custody Evaluations Workshop at the University of Toronto’s Continuing Education Program. He has co-authored a book entitled Parenting plan & child custody evaluations: Increasing evaluator competence & avoiding preventable errors (Drozd, Olesen, & Saini, 2013: Professional Resource Press) and he is a co-editor of the book entitled “Parenting plan evaluations: applied research for the family court (2nd Edition) (Drozd, Olesen & Saini, 2013: Oxford University Press) and most recently a co-author of the book entitled Evidence-Informed Interventions for Court-Involved Families: Promoting Coping and Healthy Child Development (Greenberg, Fidler & Saini, 2019: Oxford University Press). Dr. Saini has written and presented about the empirical evidence of parenting plan evaluations and he provides training and consultation to international audiences about parenting plan evaluations. Most recently (November 2018), he was invited by the Supreme Court of Japan to educate their parenting plan evaluators on the empirical evidence related to conducting parenting plan evaluations and the factors that should be considered when making recommendations to the Courts.
Dr. Saini also has extensive knowledge and expertise regarding strained parent-child relationships post separation and divorce, including strained related to alienation, intimate partner violence, child maltreatment and abuse, trauma and parenting issues. He has co-authored a book about strained parent-child relationships entitled Children who resist postseparation parental contact: A differential approach for legal and mental health professionals” (Fidler, Bala & Saini, 2013: Oxford University Press) and has written specifically about alienation, including a comprehensive review of the empirical evidence (Saini, Johnston, Fidler & Bala, 2012, 2016), and he has presented at both national and international conferences about the state of the evidence regarding alienation, including definitions, prevalence, etiology, assessment and measurement, consequences and interventions.
Dr. Saini also has extensive knowledge and expertise about reunification interventions. Since 2013, he has been the lead evaluator for the Overcoming Barriers (OCB) Program, a family-centred approach for working with families with strained parent-child relationships in Vermont, California and Arizona where he has completed pre and post surveys with parents, interviews with children and a follow up survey with parents post attendance at the OCB camps from 2008 to 2016 (results to be published in the April issue of the Family Court Review). He has published about creating optimal reunification plans for parent-child strained relationships and routinely provides parent coaching, consultation and support to assist families experiencing these strains and he is the co-author of a tool to measure the success of reunification therapies (Drozd, Saini, Walters, Fidler, & Deutsch, 2018). Dr. Saini is a Board Member of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and an editorial board member for the Family Court Review and the Journal of Divorce and Remarriage. He is an Associate Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers. Dr. Saini collaborates with both local and international government agencies, including, Justice Canada, Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario. Nebraska State Court Administrator’s Office, the National Centre for State Courts, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and the Supreme Court of Japan to explore and evaluate differential pathways for parents within the various court systems based on the level of interparental conflict and service needs.