Ontario’s African-Canadian community has come up with a list of recommendations to improve a child-welfare system they say is systematically racist, lacks compassion and does not take into account African-Canadian culture and parenting styles.
The One Vision One Voice project consulted more than 800 individuals and organizations to figure out how to improve results for African-Canadian children and families in the system. Its report was released on Thursday.
It found African-Canadians are over-represented in the child-welfare system and unfairly treated by its staff.
More specifically, African-Canadian children are more likely to be referred to a branch of the Children’s Aid Society by teachers, police and medical professionals, more likely to be removed from their homes, less likely to be returned to their families and more likely to grow up in foster care without being adopted or finding another permanent home.
Key findings from the report:
- While African-Canadians represent eight per cent of the Toronto population, they represent 41 per cent of all children and youth in care of the Toronto Children’s Aid Society.
- When a report to child welfare has been made, people of African descent are investigated twice as often as white people.
- Most white children who enter the system are permitted to stay with their families, whereas most children of African descent are taken away from theirs. Child welfare for children of African descent usually means shattering the bonds with their parents.
- There are no significant differences in the overall incidence of child maltreatment between whites and people of African descent. However, professionals and individuals are more likely to report people of African descent than whites to child welfare.
Six key recommendations:
- Supporting families before a crisis, including establishing and funding agencies to strengthen and keep families together.
- Establishing a unit to address racial disproportionality and disparities.
- Requiring child welfare agencies to collect and report on race-based data.
- Training to address anti-black racism in education, community and social services, community safety and correctional services and healthcare.
- Better oversight of the child-welfare system.
- Increased funding for services like universal child care, affordable housing, public transit, and living wage standards, which address the basic needs of vulnerable families.
Read the full report below.