On October 24, Children’s Aid Societies will launch their annual campaign, Ontario Dress Purple Day, to raise awareness about every child and youth’s right to safety and well-being. This year the campaign will include a focus on the role that the broader social and economic environment plays in creating the conditions for child abuse and neglect to occur.
“During our annual campaign we are asking that if you have a concern about a child or youth, speak up and call a Children’s Aid Society,” says Mary Ballantyne, CEO of the Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies (OACAS). “This year we are also asking that you speak up for an excellent and equitable social services system. We’ve learned that the most effective approach to child abuse and neglect is timely and appropriate services for families.”
Children’s Aid Societies are part of the broader children’s services system that cares for kids, providing services to approximately 43,000 children and youth in Ontario last year. Research shows that 89% of these children and youth live in families that may be struggling with issues that can make parenting even more challenging than it already is. Challenges like mental health, addictions, domestic violence, trauma, and extreme financial stress. Without timely and appropriate supports, these families can struggle to meet their kids’ needs. This means that the majority of the work that Children’s Aid Societies undertake in Ontario is not related to the extreme abuse that most people association with child welfare. CASs get involved because research shows that the impact of not meeting a child or youth’s needs on an ongoing basis can have devastating long-term results.
“Protecting kids requires a multifaceted approach,” says Mary Ballantyne, “one that supports caregivers to address their challenges, and that at the same time recognizes that for families to care for their kids they need access to social services, jobs, housing, and clean water.”
On October 24 Children’s Aid Societies are asking the community that cares for kids to dress purple and speak up for their right to safety and well-being. And this year, this includes speaking up for a robust social services system that supports families to care for their kids.