ONE VISION ONE VOICE: Changing the Child Welfare System for African Canadians


This is a project by the African Canadian community, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services through the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies, to develop a Practice Framework that will improve outcomes for African Canadian children and families who come into contact with the child welfare system.

An important part of this project was to hear from individuals throughout Ontario about their past experiences with the child welfare system. We also heard the perspectives of service providers, advocates, educators, social workers, and others who had experience with a Children’s Aid Society and care about how Ontario’s child welfare system affects African Canadians.

On September 29th, 2016, the One Vision One Voice project launched the Practice Framework, comprised of Part I, the Research Report, and Part II, the Race Equity Practices, at a one-day Symposium. Over the last year, One Vision One Voice has consulted with the African Canadian community and Ontario Children’s Aid Societies to develop a Practice Framework to support better outcomes for African Canadians involved with the child welfare system.

Printed copies of the One Vision One Voice Practice Framework, Parts 1 and 2, can be purchased from OACAS here.

Kike Ojo profileKike Ojo, Project Lead, discusses how One Vision One Voice got started, the importance of collecting race-based data in child welfare, and the feedback she heard from community members at 15 consultations.



Download the research report

Download the Research Report.

Download the Race Equity Practices

Download the Race Equity Practices.

Media contact:
Sean McGrady
1-800-718-1797 ext. 2497

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Ethno-racial Categories and Child Welfare Decisions: Exploring the Relationship with Poverty

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One Vision One Voice Symposium

The One Vision One Voice symposium launched the One Vision One Voice Practice Framework and its companion document the One Vision One Voice Research Report at the symposium. Over 250 community members, leaders and staff from CASs across the province attended and heard from Minister Michael Coteau, Ministry of Child and Youth Services and the Minister responsible for the Anti-Racism Directorate; Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission; and Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth, and other memorable key note speakers. Those in attendance also had the opportunity to provide feedback and ask questions about the Framework and next steps.

Download the Framework Summary:


For decades, African Canadian communities across the province have raised concerns about the overrepresentation of African Canadian children in care of Children’s Aid. African Canadian parents and families have also raised concerns about how they are treated by child welfare staff and the overall system.

Issues in Ontario reflect the issues raised by African Americans throughout the United States. Compared to their White counterparts, African Canadian children are:

  • More likely to be referred to a Children’s Aid Society by educators, police, and medical professionals
  • More likely to be removed from their homes
  • Less likely to be returned to their families
  • More likely to grow up in foster care without being adopted or finding another permanent home

The two key issues are:

  • Disproportionality: the over- or under-representation of certain groups (e.g., racial) in a public child welfare agency relative to the group’s proportion in the general population.
  • Disparity: when services to one segment of the community are allocated differently, such as an increased or decreased likelihood of entering or exiting the services system or care.

Race Matters in Child Welfare This infographic summarizes some of the research into racial disproportionality and disparities in the child welfare system.

Fact Sheet: The African Canadian Population in Ontario This fact sheet provides an overview of the demographic composition of Ontario’s African Canadian population.

This is a project of the African Canadian community, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services through the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies. The goal is to develop a Practice Framework to be used by child welfare staff to improve outcomes for African Canadian children and families who come into contact with the child welfare system. This project will include two phases:

Phase 1: Research

The research phase will include:

  • Literature and best practice review
  • Community consultations across the province
  • Survey of CAS staff
  • Survey of CAS practices

Community Consultations

Almost 800 community members participated in consultation sessions. Sessions focused on discussing ways to make Ontario’s child welfare system more responsive to the needs of African Canadian children and families.

Sessions looked at the following questions: What are child welfare’s strengths? How does it impact African Canadian children, families, and communities? What recommendations do you have for changing the child welfare system to better serve African Canadians?

Completed Consultations

Phase 2: Development of Practice Framework

Based on the research, the Practice Framework will be developed. The Practice Framework will be shared with the community and child welfare field in mid-2016.

Steering Committee

This project is being guided by a Steering Committee made up of people in the African Canadian community who are familiar with the issues. The Steering Committee will provide direction for the project, including the community consultations, research, and the development of the Practice Framework.

While additional members may be added, the Steering Committee currently consists of:

Kevin Panton, Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
Dr. Akua Benjamin, Ryerson University
Sophia Brown Ramsay, Black Community Action Network
Dr. Jennifer Clarke, Ryerson University
Everton Gordon, Jamaican Canadian Association/CAFCAN
Leyland Gudge, Cleo Community Services Consultancy
Dr. Julian Hasford, Black Community Action Network (Peel)
Marlene Hyppolite, President, Samedi littéraire haïtiano canadien
Kemi Jacobs, YENSOMU Delta Family Resource Centre
Mohamed Jama, Midyanta Community Services
Sipho Kwaku, Woodgreen Community Services
Dr. Howard McCurdy, Independent
Sonia Mills-Minster, MSc, Psych., ICCDPD, Millan & Associates
Margaret Parsons, Executive Director, African Canadian Legal Clinic
Zakiya Tafari, Ukima House / Young and Potential Fathers
Jamea Zuberi, Educator

Project Group Photo

Reference Group

A Reference Group comprised primarily of African Canadian employees of various Children’s Aid Societies has also been established. This group will provide input into the project and provide insights into the child welfare system and its impact on African Canadian children and families.

Member agencies:

Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton
Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto
Children’s Aid Society of London and Middlesex
Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa
Children’s Aid Society of Toronto
Durham Children’s Aid Society
Peel Children’s Aid Society
Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society
York Region Children’s Aid Society

ACF_Reference Group

Project Manager – Kike Ojo

Kike Ojo is currently a Senior Program Analyst with the Government and Stakeholder Relations Team at OACAS and is the Project Manager for the initiative, One Vision One Voice: Changing the Child Welfare System for African Canadians.  Prior to her secondment to OACAS, Kike spent 9 years at Peel Children’s Aid Society as the Senior Manager of Diversity and Anti-Oppression.  In her time at Peel CAS, Kike provided leadership to the agency on the strategy and implementation of the anti-oppression journey, successfully shifting the agency culture towards anti-oppressive practice.  In 2010 under Kike’s leadership, the Board of Peel CAS was awarded the Maytree Foundation’s Diversity in Governance Award, and in 2011 staff surveyed said that the anti-oppression journey was the number one reason for their employment satisfaction.  Prior to her child welfare career, Kike worked within multiple social service sectors, and within the community, in both the US and Canada.  Kike’s community work earned her the Lincoln Alexander Award for extraordinary leadership in the elimination of racial discrimination in Ontario.   Kike’s formal education includes a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology with a minor in International Justice and Human Rights from McMaster University, a Master of Arts in Sociology and Equity Studies in Education from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Education, University of Toronto.  Additionally Kike is a certified alternative dispute resolution mediator.

Consultant – Turner Consulting Group Inc.

A consultant has been hired to conduct the community consultations and research, and prepare the strategy.

Turner Consulting Group is a leading equity, diversity and inclusion consultancy firm in the Toronto area. Tana Turner, Principal and Senior Consultant, has worked on a number of projects related to the African Canadian community, developed tools for racial equity analysis, and conducted equity assessments for various organizations.

Who is included as an African Canadian?

The term “African Canadian” refers to all Canadians of African descent, regardless of where they were born, e.g. Canada, Jamaica, Nigeria, England, etc.

Why talk about the experience of African Canadians in child welfare?

The experience of African Canadians in the child welfare system is not the same as that of White and other racialized children and families.

Hearing directly from the community has helped to bring to the surface the experiences of African Canadian children and families with child welfare and has helped us to understand how child welfare services need to change to better serve this community. This information has been summarized along with the review of the literature and best practices in the research report that will be released in 2016.

What will the Practice Framework do?

The Practice Framework will support the various Children’s Aids Societies across Ontario to understand and better serve African Canadian children and families. It will be used to help reduce the over-representation of African Canadians in the child welfare system and ensure they have better outcomes when they do get involved with child welfare.

In the past few years, there have been a number of news articles written on the experiences of African Canadian children and families with child welfare. Some of these include:

OACAS Articles

Read more OACAS articles

African Canadians and Ontario’s Child Welfare System

African-Canadians unfairly treated by Ontario’s child-welfare system: report
September 29

Ontario children’s aid societies agree to collect race data
Toronto Star
June 6, 2016

Peel group calls for GTA African-Canadian Children’s Aid Society
Toronto Star
December 9, 2015

Disproportionality in child welfare for Black children, youth
Share Newspaper
November 4, 2015

The Children’s Aid Society on Grapevine
November 1, 2015

Public consultation on child welfare system comes to Peel
The Mississauga News
October 29, 2015

African Canadians raise concerns about child welfare system
The Jamaica Gleaner
October 19, 2015

CBC News Ottawa
October 7, 2015
Interview begins at 41:20.

African Canadians in the Child Welfare System
CBC Windsor
October 1, 2015

Black on Black
September 19, 2015

Ontario Morning
CBC Radio
September 16, 2015
Story starts at 1:28 and runs until 9:46.

CBC News Late Night (Ontario)
September 15, 2015
Story begins at 3:03.

Texas Child Protection
CBC Metro Morning
August 31, 2015

Watch for bias by race
Toronto Star
August 27, 2015

Toronto CAS leads on black kids in care: Editorial
Toronto Star
August 26, 2015

Black kids stay longest in care, CAS study shows
Toronto Star
August 26, 2015

CBC Metro Morning
August 25, 2015

CAS black families
CBC Metro Morning
August 24, 2015

Abuse, Family Separation and Foster Care Link to Mental Illness in Black Children
Pride Newspaper
June 3, 2015

 A children’s aid for black families overdue
Hamilton Spectator
February 19, 2015

Ontario may collect race-based data on kids in care
Toronto Star
February 16, 2015

Prof calls for Black children’s aid society
The Caribbean Camera
December 18, 2014

Ontario’s most vulnerable children kept in the shadows
Toronto Star
December 12, 2014

Black children’s aid society needed, lawyers say
Torstar News Service
December 12, 2014

Why are so many black children in foster and group homes?
Toronto Star
December 11, 2014

Taking steps to help black youth in CAS
Toronto Star
December 11, 2014

Ontario’s Child Welfare System

How to improve Ontario’s child protection system
Toronto Star
May 19, 2015

How one child welfare agency is building trust
Toronto Star
December 12, 2014

Why are children in CAS care described like criminals
Toronto Star
February 6, 2015