ONE VISION ONE VOICE: Changing the Ontario Child Welfare System to Better Serve African Canadians

One Vision One Voice is a program led by the African Canadian community. It is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services through the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies and addresses the overrepresentation and experiences of disparities faced by African Canadians after coming into contact with the child welfare system.

Officially as of March 2020, Phase III of the One Vision One Voice (OVOV) program is underway. The focus of this next phase will be on the ongoing implementation work of the 11 Race Equity Practices. The third part of the Practice Framework series will be released soon. It is a toolkit that will help agencies assess their implementation of the Race Equity Practices to date, determine what more is needed, and develop further implementation plans.

Other priorities for the next phase of work include ongoing engagement with the African Canadian community, developing a leadership mentorship program for African Canadians working in the child welfare sector, launching additional Power Up! youth gatherings, and evaluating existing programs and service delivery models.

Background

On September 29th, 2016, through the guidance and leadership of the African Canadian community, the One Vision One Voice (OVOV) program launched the Practice Framework, comprised of Part I, the Research Report, and Part II, the Race Equity Practices, at a one-day Symposium.

The 11 Race Equity Practices outlined in the Practice Framework are the principles which will be used by child welfare staff across the province to improve outcomes for African Canadian children and families who come into contact with the child welfare system.

Examples of how work will change for CAS agencies include:

  • Accountability to the African Canadian community through the establishment of a African Canadian Provincial Advisory Council and 11 African Canadian Local Advisory Councils working with local Children’s Aid Societies across the province.
  • Placement of African Canadian children and youth with African Canadian kin and families (racial and cultural matching)
  • Working with CAS staff (from boards to front line staff) to conduct an organizational anti-black racism needs assessment and to create individualized implementation plans to ensure the 11 Race Equity Practices can be effectively implemented.

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.

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.

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

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.

What will the Race Equity Practices do?

The Race Equity Practices 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.

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

Due to the diligence and advocacy of the African Canadian community, the overrepresentation of African Canadian families in the child welfare system, and the disparity and disproportionality in outcomes African Canadian families experience within the system, is a priority.

We are counting on the African Canadian community to continue to remain engaged, and continue to hold the child welfare system accountable to ensure One Vision One Voice’s Race Equity Practices are fully implemented across the province.

The African Canadian community played and continue to play an invaluable role leading the One Vision One Voice work provincially.

Part 1: Research

Part 2: The Development of a Practice Framework

Part 3: Promising Practices and Implementation Toolkit

ONE VISION ONE VOICE: Phase II Archive

Phase III (Ongoing)

In the News: African Canadians and Ontario's Child Welfare System

We Welcome Your Ongoing Feedback

Email: onevisiononevoice@oacas.org

Join the Conversation Online

Join the conversation on social media through Twitter or Facebook by telling us how Ontario's child welfare system can better serve the African Canadian population. Follow us @1Vision1VoiceCA. Use the hashtag: #1Vision1Voice.


OACAS is pleased to welcome Keishia Facey as the Project Manager for Phase III of One Vision One Voice. Keishia joined OACAS in May 2020 and can be reached at onevisiononevoice@oacas.org.

Learn more about the early stages of the work, the importance of race-based data collection, and the launch of the Practice Framework to support better outcomes for African Canadians in child welfare.

Our Resources

What are the Race Equity Practices?

PRACTICE 1

PRACTICE 2

PRACTICE 3

PRACTICE 4

PRACTICE 5

PRACTICE 6

PRACTICE 7

PRACTICE 8

PRACTICE 9

PRACTICE 10

PRACTICE 11

Learn More

Nicole Bonnie, CEO of OACAS, shares her personal reflections on recent events and anti-Black racism 

"It is clearer than ever that we must dismantle oppression and racism—especially anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism—if we hope to improve outcomes for families in the child welfare system."

Read more

All In! Symposium, gives Ontario Black child welfare staff the first opportunity to gather collectively to discuss their unique experiences.

Feelings of isolation, feeling silenced, having qualifications constantly questioned, passed over for promotions, anti-Black statements in the workplace and in the community are just some of the themes that emerged from Black staff attending “All In!”.

Read more


First ever gathering of African Canadian Youth in Care marks a turning point for child welfare

In July 2018, One Vision One Voice hosted Power Up!, the first symposium for African Canadian youth in care ever held in the province of Ontario. Youth shared their experiences with the child welfare system, and participated in workshops, panel discussions, and ceremonies.

Read more