The 2SLGBTQ+ Initiative: Five Things to Know!

In honour of Pride Month 2023, we are highlighting some of the exciting and groundbreaking work happening at OACAS and across the child welfare sector to support, engage, and improve outcomes for Ontario 2SLGBTQ+ children, youth, and families.

Below are five things you need to know about the 2SLGBTQ+ Initiative.

We held our first Q-munity Youth Symposium!

The inaugural edition of the Q-munity Youth Symposium was held virtually on February 25, 2023. Q-munity was the first-ever symposium for child welfare involved youth who identify as part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. The theme of the historic event was “Finding Pride in Community” and it offered programming that allowed youth to connect with one another, learn, have fun, and take pride in their identities. Over 50 youth from across the province registered for the event. The OACAS SOGIE (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression) Team is excited to host the 2024 Q-munity Youth Symposium in person! Plans are already underway.

We established a 2SLGBTQIA+ Provincial Roundtable.

The 2SLGBTQIA+ Provincial Roundtable was established in February 2023 with the goal of bringing together key stakeholders from across sectors with expertise and lived experiences in 2SLGBTQ+ communities to discuss the experiences and needs of 2SLGBTQ+ children, youth, and families involved with the child welfare system. The 2SLGBTQIA+ Provincial Roundtable will recommend best practices and solutions to support 2SLGBTQ+ families’ well-being and success from a cross-sectoral, intersectional lens.

We launched the Disparity Mapping Project to develop a tool to disrupt service disparities.

OACAS has partnered with Dr. Shelley Craig from the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work to undertake a research project aimed at identifying disparities in child welfare service for 2SLGBTQ+ children, youth, and families. The project has already produced an updated and comprehensive literature review of the available research related to 2SLGBTQ+ communities and child welfare. Qualitative interviews with child welfare staff will begin soon, with the ultimate aim of producing a decision-making tool to support child welfare agencies in disrupting identified disparities in service.

We continue to partner with Camp Lifting Leaves.

OACAS continues to work alongside Ten Oaks Project to promote and fund their in-person and virtual camp, Camp Lifting Leaves, specifically for children and youth with child welfare experience. For the first time ever, there was a waitlist for the in-person edition of camp in October 2022. As a result, we are excited to be able to expand the number of participants for October 2023! Camp Lifting Leaves offers programming designed to empower campers through play that enhances self-esteem, life skills, independence, community-building, and confidence.

We host regular 2SLGBTQ+ sector staff events.

In March 2021, we held the first provincial meeting for any staff member employed at a child welfare agency who identified as 2SLGBTQ+. This was in response to voices from the sector who had a desire to connect with other 2SLGBTQ+ staff but felt that it was not always safe for them to be “out” in their own organizations. Since that initial meeting, OACAS has ensured that this opportunity for 2SLGBTQ+ staff to gather has endured. By hosting these gatherings, the 2SLGBTQ+ Initiative has continued to provide a safe space for child welfare staff to connect with one another, be in community, share their experiences, and learn together. Staff from all over the province join our quarterly meetings.