Ontario Strengthening Supports for African-Canadian and Black Children and Youth in Care
The Ontario government is providing $650,000 to One Vision, One Voice, a community-led project that supports the delivery of culturally appropriate services for African-Canadian and Black children and youth in the child welfare system. The funding will be used for pilot programs to help youth stay connected to their communities, which is a key commitment of the province's strategy to redesign the child welfare system. "We cannot treat each child the same way, especially in a province as diverse as ours," said Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues. "Projects like One Vision, One Voice give African-Canadian and Black children and youth in care a strong voice and tools for equitable care and better outcomes. This work is essential as we transform child welfare and work to build a better, more inclusive system." African-Canadian and Black children, youth and families in the child welfare system frequently experience more negative outcomes. Research shows they are more likely to be investigated by children's aid societies and have their children taken into care. This separates families, causes trauma as children are removed from their communities and harms youth as they age. One Vision, One Voice, with the guidance and leadership of the African-Canadian community, has developed a Race Equity Practice Framework, a set of clinical guidelines to support child welfare agencies in providing better service to African-Canadian and Black children, youth and families. These guidelines include increasing the diversity of child welfare staff, ensuring staff are trained in culturally appropriate and anti-racist practices, supporting well-trained caregivers, and ensuring children and youth are placed with kin or caregivers from their community as a priority. This year's additional funding will help expand this work. The funds will also support two new innovative pilot programs: the African-Canadian Service Delivery Model and the Aunties and Uncles Program. These service delivery models include specific tools and techniques for working with African-Canadian and Black families, and match Black children and youth in foster care with adult "aunties and uncles" from their communities to help youth stay connected to their culture and heritage. "The expansion of One Vision, One Voice will allow for more culturally appropriate service delivery for Black children, youth and families across the province," said Nicole Bonnie, CEO of Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies. "It shows the community concrete, measurable actions that children's aid societies and this government are taking to dismantle anti-Black racism and the disparities and disproportionalities for Black children, youth and families in child welfare." "The child welfare system must ensure it is helping to strengthen families and communities," said Jamil Jivani, Ontario's Advocate for Community Opportunities. "Initiatives like One Vision, One Voice can help us strengthen families and communities by reducing the overrepresentation of Black children and youth in Ontario's children's aid societies." "By working together, we can deliver better outcomes and remove the systemic barriers that have kept African-Canadian and Black children from accessing the same security and opportunities they should be able to count on," said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General and Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism. "One Vision, One Voice will strengthen supports and provide culturally relevant programming to fight systemic racism and oppression in our communities."
One Vision, One Voice is a joint project between the Ontario government and the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. Its long-term goals are to eliminate the disproportionality of African-Canadian and Black children and youth involved in child welfare in Ontario, as well as the disparity in outcomes, and to increase the availability of culturally relevant programs and services for foster youth and children in care.
In 2013, the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto reported that 40.8 per cent of children and youth in care were Black, despite approximately 8.5 per cent of Toronto’s overall population identifying as Black.
According to the One Vision, One Voice Race Equity Practice Framework, African-Canadian children and youth were 40 per cent more likely to be investigated by children’s aid societies when compared to white children and were 13 per cent more likely to be placed in out-of-home care.
The Ontario government has invested $934,000 over the past two fiscal years (2019-20 and 2020-21) to continue to implement the Race Equity Practice Framework and to pilot two new service delivery models: the African-Canadian Service Delivery Model and the Aunties and Uncles Program.