Ontario Bolstering Supports for African Canadian and Black Children and Youth in Care
July 20, 2021
HAMILTON — The Ontario government is investing $800,000 annually in One Vision, One Voice, a community-led initiative with a focus on anti-Black racism. The project supports the delivery of culturally appropriate services to address the disproportionate representation of African Canadian and Black children and youth in the child welfare system, as well as significant disparities they face compared to other groups. “One Vision, One Voice gives African Canadian and Black children and youth in care a much stronger voice,” said Jane McKenna, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “Ensuring Black families have access to culturally appropriate supports when they are needed is essential as we redesign child welfare in Ontario and work to build a better, more inclusive system.” The purpose of the One Vision One Voice project is to support the delivery of safe and suitable services for African Canadian and Black children, youth and families to improve outcomes in Ontario’s child welfare system. Some significant achievements include:
An anti-Black racism training program for child welfare leaders
Aunties and Uncles, a unique initiative offering Black and African Canadian youth in care a Black mentor, or an “auntie or uncle,” who can provide a sense of cultural self-identity
An African Canadian service delivery model to help children’s aid societies support Black and African Canadian children, youth and families
A mentoring program for African Canadian child welfare staff to advance to senior level positions, and
Multiple youth symposiums for African Canadian and Black Youth in Care and symposiums for all-Black staff.
“This important work being done by the child welfare sector will provide Black children and youth with the supports they need to achieve their full potential,” said Dr. Merilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “These new supports will build on the incredible work of community organizations through the enhanced Ontario Black Youth Action Plan.” Providing high quality, culturally appropriate and responsive community-based services with a focus on prevention and early intervention is a key component of Ontario’s child welfare redesign strategy. This includes investing in initiatives to better serve Indigenous, Black, racialized and LGBTQ2S children and youth. “We commend the government for recognizing the damaging impact of the overrepresentation of African Canadians in the child welfare system,” said Nicole Bonnie, Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. “This funding will help support the dismantling of anti-Black racism as it requires consistent, urgent and focused attention. The One Vision One Voice practice frameworks will provide societies with the tools to embed culturally relevant supports to help examine systemic issues related to anti-Black racism, policies and practices that create disparate outcomes for Black families.” “We recognize that Black and racialized children and families are overrepresented in the child welfare system, including at our agency,” said Bryan Shone, Executive Director from the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton. “One Vision One Voice continues to provide us with an opportunity to adjust our practices, engage communities, and reinvent a system that ensures Black children, youth and families in the community, and in care, have access to services that will support, promote and enhance their overall health and well-being.”
African Canadian and Black children, youth and families have experienced discrimination in the child welfare system and face disproportionately poor outcomes as a result. They are also overrepresented in the system. For instance, Black children and youth in care at the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto account for five times their representation in the city’s overall population.
Ontario funds a broader range of other supports for Ontario’s Black communities. Through the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan, the government is increasing opportunities for Black children, youth and families through a suite of services and supports, including a youth mentorship program, career development and training and parenting supports, in target communities across the province.