The youth perspective on building a better child welfare system for African Canadians

three siblingsAfrican Canadian youth have the chance to share their ideas about how to improve the child welfare system as part of the final stage of a series of community consultations for the ground-breaking project ONE VISION ONE VOICE: Changing the Child Welfare System for African Canadians.

ONE VISION ONE VOICE is a project led by the African Canadian community in Ontario, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Servicess through OACAS, to develop a strategy that will improve outcomes for African Canadian children and families who come into contact with the child welfare system.

To help guide the strategy, youth formerly in care or currently receiving services from Children’s Aid are being invited to speak at consultations in Windsor on November 3, Toronto on November 14, and Ottawa on November 18.

“Taking the time to hold youth-focused consultations is about centring the youth voice,” said Kike Ojo, project manager for ONE VISION ONE VOICE. The setup of the consultations is key to creating a safe space for youth to speak out. “We acknowledge the youth’s experiences and address issues like racism right away,” said Ojo. “We make it safe for youth to speak up by having facilitators who look like them and an environment that reflects them.”

Ojo says that this could be the start of something important — regularly giving youth involved with the child welfare system a chance to engage more meaningfully in effecting change.

“We could have more involvement, for instance, with OACAS’ Youth Policy Advisory and Advocacy Group by increasing representation of African Canadian youth and youth from other diverse racial and cultural backgrounds,” she said. “Listening to the experiences of and suggestions from youth by bringing them together on a regular basis is one way to do that.”

A summary of the consultations will be included in a research report that will be shared with the field and public in the spring of 2016.

To see pictures from past community consultations, visit the project’s Facebook page.

Click here to read more about ONE VISION ONE VOICE, to view the full consultation schedule, and to register online.