As we continue to see and process the recent public displays of anti-Black racism taking place in communities near and far, it is important to hold ourselves as individuals and organizations accountable for our own education about the issues faced by Black communities and to continuously strive to do better in addressing them. Despite the efforts we are making and continuing to build upon, we acknowledge that there is still a long way to go.
At Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, we are committed to standing alongside Black children, youth, and families in our communities and supporting our child- and youth-serving partners who work to improve outcomes for and address issues facing Black families. Through our work, we know that Black families make up a disproportionate number of those involved in the child welfare system. In Ontario alone, although Black children make up just four per cent of the overall child population, they represent 30 per cent of kids living in government care.
Together with our partners and donors, we are committed to the ongoing process of learning and listening in order to best support programs that seek to address the specific needs of Black children, youth, and families involved with the child welfare system, help to reduce the number of Black children coming into care, and to better address anti-Black racism within our sector and beyond.
Here are some of programs we are proud to support:
• CHEERS, a program providing mentorship, life skills training and support, and educational support for Black youth in and from care in Toronto. Through CHEERS, Black youth who are preparing to transition out of the child welfare system are paired with another Black youth who has previously transitioned out of care.
• The Black Education & Awareness Committee, which strives to meet the needs of youth of African descent through innovative direct programming. This program has taken a prominent role in the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto’s work to address and reverse the trend of Black children and youth being over-represented in the child welfare system.
• Caring Dads, a prevention program aimed at helping fathers of families at risk of becoming involved in the child welfare system learn important parenting skills and gain an understanding of how their actions can affect their children. CAS Toronto’s North West site offers services primarily to fathers of Black, African, and Caribbean Canadian decent.
• The Kuponya project, a collaboration between the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto’s North West Branch, Caribbean African Canadian Social Services (CAFCAN) and The Jean Tweed Centre to offer a twofold approach to working with Black families from a trauma informed perspective.
• Pape Adolescent Resource Centre’s (PARC) Ahead of the Game Initiative is a youth mentoring program for Black youth, geared towards strengthening the identities of young people of African descent.
As part of our commitment to addressing disproportionality and improving our work, I want to share with you some of the key priorities the Foundation will be focusing on in the years to come:
• Aligning the Foundation’s grants and programs with initiatives being delivered by our child welfare agency partners that specifically address the unique needs of Black youth.
• Co-designing new programs with select child welfare partners to address the needs of Black youth involved with the child welfare system.
• Engaging all Foundation stakeholders in ongoing education and learning to enhance knowledge and awareness of issues of social equity and justice impacting Black populations.
• Developing advisory groups or committees to inform our strategies to address the unique needs of over-represented populations within the child welfare sector.
These programs and priorities are just the beginning and there is always more to be done. We hope you will join us as we continue to stand up for and alongside racialized children and families. I am proud to lead an organization that is committed to continually growing and developing our programming for Black young people and families, striving to do better to inform our work through education and consultation with experts, and holding ourselves accountable for making progress against anti-Black racism.